Women’s basketball continues downward spiral late in season

Sam Tapper – Sports Writer

Senior guard Imani Wheeler was seemingly doing everything in her power to keep her team in it.

However, it was not enough as the Owls’ women’s basketball team fell to Assumption College 68-52 on Tuesday at Moore Field House, resulting in their third straight loss.

The Owls (8-12, 2-10 NE-10) found themselves dug into an undesirable hole early on, despite freshman guard Amani Boston opening scoring in the first minute with a three pointer.

The Greyhounds took a 25-10 lead after the first quarter, a quarter that saw Southern then went scoreless for four straight minutes.

“I think it’s just defense, we haven’t really found a gel of communication between everyone,” Wheeler said.

“I feel once we get that chemistry going, we can turn this thing around, but we still haven’t found it so, defense really, we just don’t communicate. They get wide-open shots a lot and it hurts us. When we get in that hole it’s hard to crawl back.”

The trend was quickly reversed once the second quarter started, as the Owls came out with new energy, confident they could get right back into it. Led by the feisty play on both ends from Wheeler, the Owls chipped away at the point deficit.

They still found themselves down by 13 with eight minutes to go until halftime, but a pair of free throws from senior guard Aaliyah Walker sparked a 14-1 run which tied it for the Owls with just over three minutes left until the break. The Greyhounds then took a slim three-point lead into halftime.

At the start of the third quarter, it seemed as if the momentum was on Southern’s side.

The Owls got themselves within one, trading baskets with Assumption for the first few minutes, but that was as close as they would end up getting. Assumption’s offense got going in the latter half of the quarter, outscoring the Owls 12-6 to take a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter. From there, it went downhill.

The Greyhounds outscored the Owls 22-15 in the final quarter with their lead extending back to double digits within the first minute. Southern would not get within 10 points again and was down by 19 in the quarter.

Head coach Kate Lynch did not offer comments after the game, but her student-assistant coach, current graduate student Jana Migliaro, said both offensive woes and defensive rebounding as contributing factors to the loss.

“Personally, I think it was that we weren’t boxing out on the defensive end. They got eight rebounds in the first quarter and that led to 10 second-chance points,” Migliaro said.

The Owls lost the rebounding battle 47-28, with senior Jessica Fressle, who had nine rebounds, being the only Owl to grab more than five. On the offensive end, the Owls shot 20-62, a smidge over 32 percent, something Migliaro said comes down to execution on that end of the floor.

“Honestly, it’s just executing them — they’re wide-open shots,” said Migliaro. “So, we just need to knock them down and we’re just not doing that, I think it relates to that we are young, we’re not used to the game speed and everything like that so I think it all plays into why we aren’t making shots.”

Wheeler was the only Owl to reach double figures in scoring with 26 points, shooting 11-24 by herself. The next highest scorers were freshman forward Alexa Kellner with nine and Fressle with eight.

Wheeler’s 26 points are a new career-high for her.

This was Wheeler’s third game with at least 20 points this year and she has reached double figures in eight straight games.

“I’d rather have [a career-high] on a win, but I mean, it’s a good accolade I guess,” said Wheeler. “I’m really not worried about it tonight. We just need some W’s.”

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