Michael Costeines and Jeff Nowak
For the first time in 2012, Owls women’s basketball lost a game.
The 71-65 loss to the College of Saint Rose Saturday marked the end of their 15- game winning streak that had stretched 66 days from Dec. 1–Feb. 4.
The Owls led 39-37 at halftime, but Sylvonya Moore, Keisha Primo and Mariah Hankton, all with 14 points, were unable to keep the Owls on top. The Golden Knights took the lead with 12 minutes left, and never looked back.
The streak has finished, but head coach Meghan Brown said nothing will change about how the Owls prepare and fight as the Northeast-10 season draws to a close and postseason play begins.
“Even though we were able to have a streak and climb to the top spot in the conference, we earned it and we know it can be lost a lot faster than it was gained,” Brown said.
At 17-4 the Owls are currently second in the Northeast-10 behind Bentley. Brown said even though the team enjoyed the streak, they didn’t lose focus by overthinking it, which will help them move one now that it’s done.
“Based on our day-to-day goals, the streak happened because of everything we worked on,” said Brown.
“It was fun, yeah, and it created a lot of excitement. But for us, we tried to not think about it and not talk about it and just improve every game.”
Win No. 15
The Owls held off a second-half surge by the visiting Assumption Greyhounds for a 71-63 victory at Moore Fieldhouse. The victory gave the Owls their 15th straight victory, the longest winning streak since the 2006-07 season.
Senior captain Alex Fiola paced the Owls with a well-rounded 20 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals. Fiola made five of Southern’s seven 3-pointers for the game. Seniors Lauren Allen and Sylvonya Moore each chipped in 12 points.
“I just continue to practice in the gym every day and shoot,” said Fiola. “I shoot a lot and hopefully it transfers over into the game.”
Fiola’s 3-point shooting helped the Owls shoot 50 percent from behind the line and 53 percent overall. The Owls defense held the Greyhounds to just 38 percent shooting and 11 field goals made against nine turnovers.
The lead ballooned to 22 before the Greyhounds cut it back to 12 after a late first-half rally, making the score 43-31 going into the break. The 43 points by the Owls nearly matched the 48 they had for the game in the first meeting between both schools, which resulted in a 21-point loss.
However the late surge seemed to foreshadow what was to come in the second half.
The Greyhounds seemed to use the first-half rally as momentum over the final 20. Assumption gradually chipped away at the lead, shooting 48 percent for the half while holding the Owls to just 24 percent shooting. The Greyhounds helped cause the Owls to commit 19 of their 20 turnovers for the game in the second half and saw their lead dwindle to under 10 points in the last 10 minutes. However, with 8:35 to play, an emphatic “Where’s your heart” came from the Southern sidelines during am Owls timeout.
Coach Meghan Brown said she was not happy with her team’s effort in the second half.
“I was frustrated with our effort and wanted them to turn up the intensity,” said Brown.
“I wanted them to make the hustle plays and get the 50/50 balls and our team seemed to respond after that.”
The lead was as little as four with five minutes to play but the message seemed to resonate, at least to sophomore Moni Smith-Ocran.
“We took that and wanted to play how we play, with pride and toughness,” said Smith-Ocran.
Ocran confidently said, “Myself, our team— we could not lose this game.”
The Owls took the floor after that and as the team that played with heart.
Ocran finished the game with 10 rebounds and found herself on the floor diving for loose balls on multiple occasions. Junior Camille Fantini added to her conference-leading 3.2 steals a game with seven more and the defense’s tough mentality edged out a hard-fighting Greyhound team.
The Owls closed out the win with some critical free throws from the line thanks to both Fiola and Fantini.
The back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, as well as the 15-game winning streak could give the Owls a spot in the Division II Top-25 poll that comes out every Monday. However, it seemed not to change the tone of Fiola, who took the win in stride.
“We as a team are happy with the win, but we take it day by day and each game one at a time.” “We just want to keep winning and playing well towards the end of the season.”