Owls struggle through final stretch of season

Matt GadSports Writer

Last year the women’s basketball team went all the way to the semifinals of the NE10 Tournament, off the hot shooting from senior Abby Hurlbert and into an NCAA Tournament first round game with Stonehill. But this season the loses seem to be piling up with a little too much frequency.

Last Wednesday, the Owls played well for part of the game, and senior Amanda Pfohl established a new singleseason record with 91 made three-pointers, but they fell to American International 78-65 for the team’s 12th loss of the year, a number they never reached last season. In their final game of the previous season, their NCAA Tournament first round loss to the Stonehill College Skyhawks was just the team’s 10th loss all year.

“There’s nothing really to say, it is kind of just like do it,” Pfohl said. “We have a really good chance to make it to the playoffs and that is what we are rooting for, but I think mentally, we all need to be on the same page so we can get that job done.”

Coming into the Feb. 13 American International contest, the NE10 conference standings were still close enough to give the Owls a good chance to qualify for the tournament, and the opportunity was there for them to make a statement.

The Owls came out of the gate hot, opening up a 20-12 lead after the first quarter, but the Yellow Jackets closed the gap before halftime, going into the locker room only trailing by four at 33-29.

Junior Imani Wheeler had 12 points to lead the Owls and junior forward Kiana Steinauer was on her usual rebounding pace, with eight at the break, but not enough of the team’s starters were getting involved. Reliance on the bench, also proved difficult, with redshirt junior Bridget Sharnick and senior Erin Ryder were both held without a bucket.

“We did not shoot well again,” coach Kate Lynch said. “It happened against [the University of] New Haven too, so at some point maybe we have to do something a little different — maybe we have to crash the boards – we have to get ourselves out of that hole.”

In the second half, the Yellow Jackets slowly pushed themselves into the driver’s seat and held on for the 13-point victory, with their senior forward Dana Watts leading them with 31 points and Wheeler, Steinauer and junior Aaliyah Walker just getting 48 altogether.

“Dana Watts is an excellent basketball player and [American International] has some really great pieces – it is always a difficult matchup for us and we had to play a really good basketball game,” Lynch said. “We did for probably two and a half quarters so we were there but that thirdquarter drought got to us.”

Pfohl said one of the main reasons for the loss was lapses in the teams chemistry and miscommunication.

“We play better when everyone is playing well and we try to stay in our comfort zone,” Pfohl said. “When we do that we should beat anyone in the conference so playoffs should not be a problem but when we play games when that does not necessarily happen then we lose.”

When the team went to face Le Moyne on Saturday, the momentum seemed to take another hit as the Owls were not able to come out of their contest with a win. Outscored in each of the last three quarters, they took a 75-55 loss to fall back to .500 at 13-13 overall and 7-11 in conference play.

Steinauer paced the Owls with 17 points and Wheeler had 13 of her own but Walker and Pfohl combined for just 16 points and senior Allie Smith was held scoreless in 25 minutes of play.

The Owls are at Adelphi tonight and then they will host Pace Saturday afternoon to close out the regular season with senior day.

They are fifth in their division, leading Pace by a game, but the likelihood of Kate Lynch’s squad reaching the playoffs this year are down to a single thread.

“We need to win at least one more game,” Lynch said. “But we do not want to play the last game needing to win.”

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