Women’s basketball stays undefeated
Success comes in stride early in season as Steinauer leads Owls to victory over Queens College
Hunter O. Lyle — Sport Editor
With defense as the key focus on the night, senior Kiana Steinauer and the women’s basketball team continued their unblemished early success, beating visiting Queen’s College 63-51.
After losing the team’s two preseason games against Yale and McMaster University of Ontario, Canada, the Owls have been on a hot streak that carried them undefeated through the Bridgeport Crossover Challenge tournament. Team captain and forward Steinauer said coming back home brought some energy to both the team and the fans.
“It was great. It was awesome to be at home, finally, to have our home opener. It was awesome that we sealed it with a win,” said Steinauer. “Ultimately, it was a lot of fun. It’s great to have some our fans here to support
us and to be on our home court.”
The game against the Knights started atypical, with Southern receiving an administrative technical for an infraction involving LED lights on the shot clock and, therefore, finding themselves down two points before the jump ball. However, after Queen’s College scored the two technical free throws, and then once again minutes into play, the Owls took over, never relinquishing the lead from then on.
Southern was able to jump to such a lead thanks to their work on defense, which stemmed from Steinauer, who ripped, tipped and chipped possessions away from the Knights, and ended with five steals at the end of the first quarter. Those extra possessions for the Owls lead to more opportunities offensively, and they did not hold back.
At the end of the first half of play, in which Southern made more than half the shots they took — 18-32 or 56 percent— the Owls found themselves holding onto a 44-27 lead.
The second half is where the Owls found some hardship. Where they had been practically offensively foolproof in the first two quarters, the team almost seemed to collapse in the last two.
The Owls were only able to connect on 14 percent of their shots in the third, a lowly 2-14 from the floor and 1-4 from deep. In the fourth, it was not much better — 26 percent or 4-15 from the floor and 0-2 from deep.
“These are the kind of games you’ve got to grind out,” said head coach Kate Lynch. “It just didn’t seem like anything was really bouncing our way, and we didn’t help ourselves out on the defensive end either.”
At several times throughout the latter half of the game, Queen’s College seemed to be preparing to mount a comeback.
While they were not volume shooters or scorers, the Knights shot 45 percent (5-11) from the floor in the third, 57 percent (4-7) in the fourth and at one point trimmed the lead down to only 10 points. However, the Knights could not seem to get out of their own way, ending with 29 turnovers, a majority of which came from either unforced errors or traveling violations.
Ultimately, the Knights were not able to muster a comeback, and the Owls went on to win 63-51.
Steinauer kept up her defensive pressure along with her normal scoring and rebounding tendencies, almost sealing a triple-double and ending with 18 points, 12 rebounds — including six offensive rebounds — and nine steals. Her 18 points also helped elevate her in Southern’s scoring record books, pushing her up to 19th in program history with 1,047 total points.
Guard Aaliyah Walker, a senior, made the starting lineup once again and tallied a season-high in scoring with 15 points in 35 minutes, while fellow senior guard Imani Wheeler ended with 10 points and three steals and gaurd Alexa Kellner, a redshirt freshman recorded a season-high two blocks.
After the game against Queens College, Southern then took to the road to face the University of the District of Colombia in the nation’s capital, where the Owls won 6451. Steinauer claimed her third double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Wheeler scored 15 points, her fourth time in a row reaching double-digits this season.
Steinauer is also quickly approaching 1,000 rebounds. After the game against the Firebirds, she was just 13 rebounds away from joining that club as well. Steinauer said the team has been so successful because everyone is carrying their share of the load.
“Everyone contributes on this team. Ultimately, everyone on the court is great leaders who play,” said Steinauer. “Everyone on this team has a role: starters start with energy, heart, doing whatever we can, and then everyone on the bench too. We just need to do our role, and if we do that, then we’ll be successful.”
Photo credit: Will Aliou