USM men win unfashionably, women lose again
Is it time to worry?
The University of Saint Mary women's basketball team doesn't think so, but the reality is that on Wednesday, the Spires dropped a third Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) game at home in a disappointing, 77-69 loss to McPherson at the Ryan Center.
USM (8-9, 5-6), a year removed from a landmark season and with a number of players back from that squad are now in eighth place in the KCAC standings.
The Spires were led by Candy De Los Reyes (19 points), Ashley Hinkle (14 points) and Lansing High alum Morgan Bromell (12 points) while allowing the Bulldogs (10-8, 6-5) to shoot 56.4 percent from the field and outrebound the home team 52-29.
“Team chemistry is off and we aren’t playing as tough as we normally play and we can’t get what we do in practice out and show it in games,” Bromell said. “We are struggling to close the gaps (on defense), letting (players) drive right past us and we aren’t boxing out. That’s where the toughness comes in.
“We went on a streak last season and I never think it’s too late. We just have to pick it up faster.”
The Spires started off fine, getting out to an early lead, but then the Bulldogs got in a groove and begin pounding away with basket after basket to build a double-figure lead midway through the second quarter.
While McPherson pounded away inside at will, USM begin to show that explosive nature synonymous with their attack and with a lot of outside shooting and inside supplementary outage, the Spires pulled to within 46-42 at halftime.
Neither team defended very well and the high-scoring game saw McPherson crank its lead back into high, single-digits until back-to-back threes by Ashley Hinkle got the Spires to within 65-63 three minutes into the fourth quarter.
“The plan wasn’t executed…time got the best of us tonight, we ran out of time trying to play catch up,” USM’s Tiani White said. “It’s frustrating losing in front of the home crowd, especially against teams we know we can keep up with and beat.
“If we all come together - it’s still pretty early in the season - we can still do well.”
Nothing feels better than an easy game in the middle of a grind.
The KCAC is a weekly battle on the men's side of the basketball slate and after 10 tough outings, the Spires were able to wrap the first half of the season against the league's bottom team of the table, McPherson, and instead of playing down, USM enjoyed their clear edge on all points of the floor.
For a half.
The second half was a bit more suspense thriller as the Spires lost the way that gave them a huge halftime edge and ended up settling for a frustrating 89-77 win,
The Spires (9-8, 7-4) were led by Teyvon Lundy (24 points, four assists), Reid Titus (19 points) and Brett Marsh (12 points) while outshooting (54.5 to 42.6 percent) the Bulldogs which made the ultimate difference in the contest.
“Everything starts defensively and we were letting them get to the rim, (force fouls) whenever they want and getting free throws to get back in it,” USM head coach Troy Brown said of e second half. “We have to get to the rim, threes have to come from drive and kicks, we have to come from inside-out. We were settling on 3s on reversals. It’s hard to keep a 20-point lead when you are doing that. This is not a mirage, this is a trend and we have to fix it.
“That’s the difference between good and great, isn’t it? Having a killer instinct for one half and not a full game. That’s what’s going to keep us out of first or second place in this league.”