Women’s basketball is back
Morgan Douglas – Sports Editor
College basketball is back at the university after nearly two years without play, and women’s basketball opened its season by splitting a pair of home games.
The Owls lost a close one this past Saturday to the Georgian Court University Lions, but bounced back the next day, defeating the Bloomfield College Bears handily.
“It feels good to be back,” forward Jessica Fressle, a graduate student, said, “I’m grateful to be able to play and have the opportunity that was taken away from us last year.”
At the start of Saturday’s home opener, it looked like both teams had not played in a long time, as it took both sides awhile to find their footing in what was a rather low scoring first quarter.
Fressle scored the Owls first bucket of the season off an assist from guard Zoe Amalbert, a junior.
The officials may have been rusty too, either they were, or they were so excited to be back they wanted to make their presence known on every play. The whistle was blowing constantly Saturday night, with a whopping 56 personal fouls called in 40 minutes’ worth of play.
Key players from both sides found themselves in foul trouble down the stretch, and while the owls had the rebounding advantage, especially in terms of offensive rebounds, they could not capitalize on the second chances and turn them into points.
“One of our biggest focuses has been attacking the glass,” guard Delaney Connors, a senior, said, “and I think we just need to be better, and we need to go up stronger, take that opportunity, that’s another possession that we get to have, that we need to capitalize on.”
Georgian Court had a big advantage in the paint, outscoring the Owls 38-24 in the painted area..
“Our biggest challenge was defense,” Amalbert said, “They were getting a lot of good shots and breaking down our defense, so that’s just something we have to get better at and work on in practice and in our future games.”
The Owls dropped the opener 85-80. Fressle finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds, the first double-double of the season coming in a defeat, but the team quickly bounced back the next day.
Against Bloomfield this past Sunday, the Owls outscored the Bears in all four quarters, including the third quarter where they outscored the opponents 28-8.
The home team ended up winning 77-51, a stark contrast after having surrendered 85 points the night prior.
Connors led the team in scoring and rebounding with 17 and 11, respectively. Her first double-double of the season. Fressle had 15 points and nine rebounds while Amalbert had 13 points and seven rebounds.
With only four returning players from the 2019 team and a lot of new faces, building chemistry has been a top priority.
“We’ve worked really hard on that aspect the last year after we knew we weren’t playing, that was our biggest thing. Our culture,” Connors said, “We are extremely close on and off the floor, so that’s really helped, but that’s been our biggest thing. If we’re going to win together, we’re going to lose together, so that’s been our main focus.”
Women’s basketball will hit the road for their next game on Wednesday, Nov. 17 for a game against the Dominican College Chargers at 6 p.m.
In the meantime, the Owls seem to have a good understanding of what they need to work on and where they need to improve in the early stages in order to hit their stride and reach their full potential.
“We need to improve on our defense, having confidence and just putting everything together,” Fressle said, “We have the pieces, it’s just about putting it all together.”