Today: Jul 14, 2024

Owls beat down Riverhawks at home

Photo courtesy Sean Meenaghan -- Photo Editor
Alex Fiola (left) had 12 points and five assists and Mariah Hankton (right) had a career-high and team-leading 22 points.

PAT LONGOBARDISports Writer

The Owls dominated in the second half to defeat the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks 79-71 at home. Southern stretched its winning streak, which is now at 10.

In the second half, UMass-Lowell quickly expanded on the lead to open the half. Sha’Nay Bushner gave UMass-Lowell a 41-31 lead after a layup with 16:55 left in the game and Danielle DePierro had a layup to make it 50-40, forcing an Owls timeout, which turned out to be the turning point of the game.

After the timeout, it was surely a different Owls team ready to burst with 13 consecutive points, while on a 21-1 run overall. Alex Fiola hit a 3-pointer on the left wing to give the Owls a 51-50 lead with under 11 minutes left. Moore later ended the run with a layup to take a 61-51 lead.

“We basically came together and played our game,” junior forward Keisha Primo said. “It starts with defense. We came with some key rebounds and we went on a run. The first half we were not patient. We wanted to win more.” The Owls shot 50 percent (27-of-54) from the field and controlled the ball to find the perfect shots. UMass-Lowell closed to within 71-69 after Brianna Wilson made a three-point play with a layup and a free throw with 2:26 left to play.

Fiola made a clutch 3-pointer to make it 74-69, and Southern would control the ball despite missed free throws down the stretch.

“We focused on rebounding and we pressured the ball,” said Fiola. “In the second half, I had open shots. We took it down and capitalized. We had fast looks.”

Fiola also had some extra motivation in this game as she went up against her sister, Lauren, for the first time, and most likely the only time since Alex is a senior. After a slow start, Alex had 12 points, all in the second half, two rebounds, five assists, one block and two steals in 39 minutes. Lauren had seven points and six rebounds.

“We never played each other except when we  played with other teams,” Alex Fiola said. “She (Lauren) played well and it was a great that I got this experience.”

Southern had four players in double-digits. Freshman guard Mariah Hankton led the Owls with 22 points and four assists. Primo had 18 points and three assists. Sylvonya Moore had 14 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and one block in 39 minutes. Camille Fantini also had eight points and six rebounds.

Junior guard Bianca Simmons led UMass-Lowell with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Busnher had 17 points, four rebounds, four steals and two assists. DePierro had 14 points and four rebounds.

Wilson had eight points. The term ‘desperate’ has been the key term for the Owls this season that has helped them going into each game to play like they are behind a large margin.

“We needed to play desperate,” Hankton said. “The first half was not our team. Defense is our thing, that is our bread and butter. The offense comes natural. We saved up energy. “

This is the only meeting between the two teams. UMass-Lowell leads the series 39-21. SCSU has won the last two meetings.

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