Summit League off to a rough start for women’s basketball

Luke Harman

Players remain optimistic even though they’re off to a shaky start.
Players remain optimistic even though they’re off to a shaky start.

Consecutive over time losses leave women’s basketball 0-2 in conference play.

The women’s basketball team suffered two heartbreaking over time defeats as the opening weekend of Summit League conference games got underway this past weekend. The Roos came up short against Oakland in a 71-65 contest on Dec. 1 in Rochester, Mich. before further disappointment just two days later versus IPFW in Fort Wayne, Ind. in an 82-76 defeat.

Against the IPFW Mastodons, sophomore Eilise O’Connor carried the Roos on the offensive end, as the guard finished with a career-high 25 points while also producing four assists. Junior Kim Nezianya hit 16, while senior Dayon Hall-Jones tallied 13 and junior Emilie Blakesley netted 11.

In an offensively-charged half, each team traded blows and produced large runs only to cancel each other out. With the Roos marginally ahead, the Mastodons cut the lead to one with just over a minute left in the half, but Blakesley’s second three of the half gave the Roos a 32-28 lead at halftime.

Coming out of the break, IPFW took the lead to as many as six at 47-41 midway through the half. Over the final eight minutes, the two teams would battle back and forth until a pair of IPFW free throws put the Mastodons in front 63-60 with 21 seconds left.

With a two-point Mastadons lead as the final few seconds ticked down, Hall-Jones weaved her way the length of the court, laying the ball in with one second on the clock to force overtime for the second straight game.

In overtime, after some early back-and-forth scores, four straight points by IPFW extended the lead to 74-70 and the ‘Roos would not be able to get closer than three the rest of the way, as the Mastadons claimed the 82-76 victory.

As a team, the Roos made 12 three-point field goals, while forcing 21 IPFW turnovers.

In Thursday’s contest with Oakland, the team dropped a 71-65 overtime contest even after holding an 11-point second half lead. Four Roos finished in double figures, including senior LeAndrea Thomas who finished with 16 points. Nezianya and O’Connor each had 13, while Hall-Jones registered 11. On the glass, senior Brianna Eldridge posted a career-high 15 rebounds, including nine offensive.

The Roos and Grizzlies battled hard in the first half, with both offense and defense refusing to be out-done. However, it was the home side that was marginally ahead at the half with the final basket which gave the Grizzlies a 28-26 lead heading into the locker room.

In the second half the teams remained close, but an 11-1 run, gave the Roos their largest lead of the game at 52-41.Five straight by the Grizzlies cut the lead to six, but O’Connor answered with two free throws to extend the lead to eight with just over six minutes left in the contest.Two Oakland basket and two free throws then trimmed the lead to three, forcing Roo Head Coach Candace Whitaker to call a timeout with 1:38 left to play.

On the final Roo possession, Thomas pushed the lead to three after splitting her free throws, but Oakland tied the score at 64 with a three-pointer with .4 seconds left in the game to force overtime.

In the overtime, both teams were evenly matched and the score was held at 66-65 until 24 seconds remained when an OU free throw extended the lead to two and when the Roos came up empty on its final possession, and the Grizzlies added a layup at the buzzer, the final score was 71-65.

As a team, the Roos shot 43.5 percent from three-point range, the fourth time they have shot better than 40 percent on the season.

The Blue & Gold will be back in action again on Friday at 6 p.m. when they head to Ypsilanti, Mich., to take on Eastern Michigan.

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