Wasps too much for SU women, win 67-58
Posted: December 3, 2012
Special to The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — With a team that had only eight players dress out for Saturday’s home Old Dominion Athletic Conference women’s basketball game with Emory & Henry, Shenandoah University had few options from the bench when it came to finding instant offense.
The Hornets struggled with their shot throughout, and even went a stretch of six and a half minutes without scoring in the first half. It didn't matter if SU got to the basket or had a shot contested, more often than not, a miss occurred.
And facing a team that was picked by conference coaches only one spot above them in the preseason poll, the Hornets could not take care of home court, shooting just 29 percent from the field and falling to the Wasps 67-58 before 297 fans in Shingleton Gymnasium.
“The biggest thing was we got in a hole in the first half,” said first-season SU coach C.K. Calhoun, whose team trailed 38-22 at the break. “Emory & Henry, they do a really good job of shooting behind the 3-point arc. We wanted to make sure we found the defensive transition, and make sure we had a hand in their face. We know they’re going to launch it from outside. We were prepared for that. I think our intensity in the first half just wasn’t there, in transition.”
The Hornets started out well, taking their only lead off a drive from freshman and former Handley standout Corin Scott with 19:09 left. SU was down only four after a drive from junior guard Crystal Petrus with 17:17 left, and another basket from Petrus a little more than a minute later cut E&H’s lead to 11-6.
From there, an extended cold spell set in for the Hornets (1-6, 0-2 ODAC), and the Wasps, who at ninth was picked just ahead of the Hornets in the 12-team ODAC poll, used the opportunity to roll off the game’s next eight points.
Freshman forward Karina Farr already had six points when she went strong to the basket and scored again at the 14:42 mark. Neither team would score over the next four minutes, but E&H did a good job to nail back-to-back shots from 3 to open a 13-point lead.
Getting free at the top of the key, reserve guard Tenesha Connor knocked in a 3-pointer with 10:36 left. The next point also came off a 3-ball, with Michelle Williams getting open off the left wing and hitting a trey with 10:03 left to send the Wasps (3-3, 2-0) up 19-6.
A nice cross-over by Petrus with 9:47 left finally ended SU’s scoring drought, and the Hornets stayed competitive until the final minutes of the first half. Two free throws from sophomore forward Holly Chittenden closed the gap to nine with 4:18 left, but E&H had another strong run in store to take a comfortable lead into the half.
Five different players scored for the Wasps down the stretch, and four points from Farr and a clutch 3-pointer from Williams helped E&H close with a 12-4 spurt to lead by 16.
Far too often in the first half, E&H was able to get SU into a running game and score strong around the basket. Part of being able to be productive in close involved Farr getting advantages with matchups. Using her quickness and every bit of her 5-foot-7 frame, Farr scored 16 of her career-best 24 points in the first half.
“It helps that we were getting [rebounds] and I got a lot of good assists from our guards,” said Farr, who also posted her fifth double-double (she had 13 rebounds, as well) of the season. “A lot of [the credit] goes to them too. I worked, but they definitely helped me along.”
With such a small bench to look to, the Hornets could not afford to get in a running game at any stage. E&H scored nine points off nine SU turnovers in the first half and got 10 fast-break points over the same span, while SU scored two.
And even though SU would start the second half strong (a 7-0 run would again get the deficit into single-digits) and had another strong run in the final minute that got the Hornets to within seven, coming all the way back might have been too much to expect.
“We need to be going full speed all the time, it needs to be total effort for 40 minutes,” Calhoun said. “It can’t be ‘Let’s go for 20.’ I think we won the second half, but we can't get in a hole in the first half.
“Our focus is defense, then we have to make sure we are taking high-percentage shots. We’re not going to catch and shoot, we’re not a Grinnell system. In the first half, we were getting in a running game with Emory & Henry. We’ve got to make sure that when we’re going through scoring droughts, that we can’t take low-percentage shots. We’ve got to make sure we get the ball inside, re-position, and kick it back out.”
Being able to use 14 players (E & H dressed 19) helped keep the Wasps fresh for the game’s final minutes while opening a big lead about midway through the second half, and the Wasps also got 23 points from their bench (to seven scored by the Hornets) to carry them through.
Held scoreless in the first half, SU freshman guard Imani Heggins opened the second half scoring with a drive, Sara D’Amico drained the team’s first made 3-pointer, and Heggins scored off a drive to bring the Hornets to within 38-29 with 16:40 left in the game.
E&H coach Rose Katz had used a timeout just before Heggins got her second basket, and not long after seeing their lead cut to nine, the Wasps got rolling again. They scored the next nine points to open the lead to 47-29, capped by a 3-pointer from Jalen McPearson with 13:16 to go.
The Wasps moved out to a 20-point lead with 11:18 left on a 3-pointer from Williams (11 points), and were still ahead by 15 with just over five minutes left when the Hornets made one final push to pull back and steal a win late.
Getting hot from outside, Petrus, who scored a career-best 14 points, nailed a pair of 3-pointers, and Scott followed up a miss, keying a 10-2 run. When Petrus made a shot from behind the arc with 54 seconds left, SU trailed just 65-58.
However, the Hornets, despite their solid effort in the end, would not score again.
The Hornets got 14 points apiece from Petrus and Chittenden (who added a career-best 17 rebounds) and 12 from D’Amico.
Katz believes it is only a matter of time before SU breaks out.
“They fought and they’re going to be a good team down the road,” Katz said. “I think this is a great school. C.K. knows how to win and she is going to teach them and they are going to be just fine. They’ve got some girls that never really laid down, and I was very impressed with that.”
The meeting was the first since E&H defeated SU 78-43 back on Dec. 8, 1985 and is the only time the two teams will play this season.
“They were giving everything they had — we just need that effort in the first half, as well,” Calhoun said. “We're working hard and trying to get there. I will say the effort against Emory & Henry was much better [compared to] Wednesday’s game [a 18-point loss to Virginia Wesleyan]. We just need the effort, the focus, and the energy for 40 minutes.”