Defensive swagger has always been the crux of Lady Spires basketball.
It’s the heart of the program. The foundation upon which head coach Mike Basler has built his teams year after year, season after season.
And so, after giving up 72 points to Kansas Wesleyan Saturday in a 72-50 loss, the team needed to get back to its roots.
On Monday, the squad did just that.
In a contest where USM allowed visiting Hillsdale Baptist College to shoot just 29 percent from the floor, the Lady Spires recaptured some of its confidence in a 63-50 victory.
“I thought our defensive pressure was real good,” Basler said. “Erin Marx had four steals, Tyla Warren played really well for us. The one bad thing in the first half was that we were in position to get rebounds, but then we gave up too many offensive boards. I think that allowed them to stay in the game.”
The game started well for USM, who accumulated a 20-11 advantage midway through. But Hillsdale clawed its way back, thanks in large part to several second-chance scoring opportunities, and closed the half out on a 20-8 run to be up 31-28.
It was in the second half that the USM defensive pressure started to pay dividends. While that slowed down Hillsdale, offensively the Lady Spires found solace inside.
“We were taking 3-pointers way too early,” Basler said. “I told them at half and I think we started the second half good at being patient. Jordan VanNess did a good job and we got the ball inside, got them into foul trouble and from there we just capitalized and executed.”
After retaking the advantage early in the second half, USM never relinquished the lead over the remaining 15 minutes of play.
Jolynn Glorioso and Shelby Watson led all players in scoring with 12 points each, while Kendra Mattox added 11.
USM, 8-16 overall, will play at Sterling College Thursday at 6 p.m.
Spires extend streak by two
Add two more notches to that ever-growing win column for the Saint Mary men’s basketball team.
Following a close 83-79 conference victory against Kansas Wesleyan Saturday, the Spires put together a 80-66 win Monday over visiting Hillsdale Free Will Baptist.
The result was the 14th straight in Saint Mary’s favor, making Nov. 27 the last time the squad suffered a loss.
Versus Hillsdale, a slow start had head coach Jon Bishop subbing out his entire starting lineup four minutes in. The move woke up the Spires, who then charged on to a 42-27 half time advantage.
The visitors chipped away at the deficit in the second half though, cutting it to 11 at 13:49 and then to six at 9:49.
Page 2 of 2 - But that was as close as Hillsdale would get. Saint Mary put together a 20-11 run over the next six minutes to squash any chances of a rally.
USM, 18-5 overall, 10-2 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and currently ranked No. 23 nationally, will travel to Sterling College Thursday for an 8 p.m. game.