Today: Apr 14, 2024

Women’s basketball defeats University of New Haven in huge comeback

Dillon Flanigan- Sports Editor

At the outset, there was frustration and confusion for the Owls, but in the rearview mirror there was a feeling of exhilaration of victory. 

It was a humbling win for the women’s basketball team as they defeated their crosstown and NE10 rival, the University of New Haven, UNH, Chargers, 67-53 on Wednesday, Feb. 14. 

Photo: Kaylee Blake

“Obviously coming out, not the best start, and I think we just weren’t getting anything done on offense, and that’s because our defense wasn’t good,” guard Hope Fox, a sophomore, said. 

In the first two minutes, the Chargers put the first points on the board, taking a 4-0 lead. Starting in place for guard Jillan Martin, a senior, was Fox, who drained a wide-open three-pointer to put the Owls on the board. Over the next six minutes, the Chargers entertained a 14-0 run, expanding their lead to 17-3. The quarter ended in Owl’s deficit 20-7. 

“We told them just to fight, no matter what team we are playing. If you’re up big, you still got to keep fighting. You don’t want to go up by 10. You got to keep pushing the envelope there. If you’re down by like 13, like we were in the first quarter, you’re still fighting,” Coach Kate Lynch said. 

The Owls’ 10-0 run continued into the second quarter, bringing the lead in reach 20-15 with contributions by guard Julianna Bonilla, a graduate, guard Delaney Haines, a junior, and guard Rheyna Steinauer, a sophomore. Midway in the second quarter, a 9-2 UNH run brought their lead to 29-17. As the quarter progressed, the Owls had more shots go in than the Chargers. Both teams had opportunities to score as the quarter ended with Fox’s three-pointer and free throw, bringing the Chargers lead 35-30. 

The Owls nest appeared to have been rattled.  

“We needed to wake up. Our energy was off this morning, so it was kind of just getting our heads right. Remembering specific keys to the game, knowing we had to help our post players out down low and just coming up with the stops,” guard Makenzie Helms, a graduate, said. 

A minute after the break, forward Katie Williamson, a senior, opened the scoring with a layup via an assist from forward Ashley Evans, a sophomore. As the Owls tried to inch closer, their effort was minimized by countless UNH scores.  

That was until a layup by Fox clinched the Owls’ first lead of the game, 43-42. An aggressive scoring campaign by both teams were neck and neck as the third quarter was winding down to Helms’s buzzer beating layup, knotting it to 52 apiece. 

“We kind of went with what was working for us, and so the little pick and roll with me and Katie just hitting her off that pop, and she was just hitting them every time. So, we kind of kept going back to that,” Helms said. 

On four jumpers and two free throws, Williamson struck gold as she scored the first 10 points in the quarter. The Charger heart was ripped out as Helms placed the cherry on top, completing five of six free throws. The Owls defense shined as they only allowed one point in the quarter. 

“Katie stepped up in the second half. Hope did a great job filling in for Jill. Kenz really woke up in the second half, so I think we held it out in the first half enough, and then our scorers stepped up,” Lynch said. 

Although the disparity in time with lead was evident with New Haven possessing the ball for 26:19 and the Owls for 11:01, the university was not out of the picture for long. Steinauer etched eight rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and eight points in a personal high 30 minutes of play as Williamson recorded nine rebounds and two blocked shots while 16 of her 20 points came in the second half.  

In the post-game, the talk was not only about the win but about how they managed to keep the Chargers to a single point in the fourth quarter.  

“Beginning the game, their shooters were knocking down shots and shot a great percentage for three,” Lynch said. “Regarding the three, they get the basketball inside. So, we just started to keep working in the post and put a little bit more ball pressure in the second half, and we are fortunate it worked out.” 

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