The women’s basketball team had no problem gaining momentum early on last night against Wagner, but failed to sustain its intensity through the final buzzer and ultimately lost 61-47.
After leading 29-27 at halftime and pulling ahead early in the second half, the Light Blue’s 36-31 lead with 19 minutes left evaporated in less than three minutes. In that time, the Lions let Wagner turn their five-point lead into a five-point deficit from which the Light Blue never recovered.
Head coach Paul Nixon said that the Lions failed to produce on offense when it counted most.
“A part of it is that you have to take advantage of your opponent during their scoring drought. That is when you need to be scoring, and that’s what really hurt us tonight,” Nixon said. “We had some stretches there where we really clamped down on them defensively, and we didn’t keep our scoring momentum going.”
In the first half, the Lions managed an impressive defensive balance that kept the Seahawks’ outside shooters at bay with a full-court press. The Lions defense also stifled the production from Wagner’s post players with intense man coverage in the paint.
Freshman forward Bailey Ott and senior guard Brittany Simmons combined for 16 points in the first half, setting the tone of intensity and hustle that typified the Lions’ play through the beginning of the second half. The Lions managed to force 13 turnovers in the first half alone. At one point, Simmons dove out of bounds hustling for a loose ball and knocked over the sideline press table in the process.
But in spite of the duo’s intense leadership on offense, the Lions failed to mount a large enough lead to stay ahead of Wagner as the Seahawks started to find their own offensive rhythm.
Senior guard Tyler Simpson said that Wagner capitalized on the Lions’ weaknesses in the second half, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.
“We had some defensive lapses, and they kept getting some pretty good shots off,” Simpson said. “Any time a team hits a couple consistent threes, it’s hard to fight back.”
The Lions also had no response to Wagner’s post players, Marie Laurence Archambault and Stephanie Blais, who combined for 26 points on the night.
“Blais and Archambault combined for 30 in the Army game, and they had 26 tonight, so I wouldn’t say we effectively defended them,” Nixon said.
Though the Lions had couldn’t sustain their strong play through the end of the game, the players said they’re confident they can improve. “I think the next game or two, it’s going to click, and everything is going to come together top to bottom,” Ott said.