WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's basketball team could not match the ferocity of the Mitchell College (MC) Mariners, who cruised to a 55-33 victory inside the O'Connell Center Monday night.
The Blue Jays (2-10, 0-1 GNAC) have lost seven straight games, while the Mariners (5-3, 4-0 NECC) have won four in a row, and five of their last six.
Freshman forward Amina Wiley (New Rochelle, N.Y.) dominated inside from the opening tip (14 PTS, 12 REBS) while sophomore forward Dejia Santana (New Britain, Conn.) finished one rebound shy of a double-double (12 PTS, 9 REBS). Freshman guard Le'Sandra Turner (New Rochelle, N.Y.) chipped in with a dozen points of her own. Freshman forward Cheyenne-Mone Smith (Wethersfield, Conn.) and sophomore guard Anna Chevarella (Derby, Conn.) carried USJ with nine points each.
The teams combined to shoot 2-for-23 from three, but the decider came inside, as the Mariners doubled up the Blue Jays in the paint (38-16) and outrebounded them 53-36.
Early on, it was the work on the offensive glass for MC that made all the difference. The Mariners had six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone, good for eight second-chance points. Sophomore guard Shaniyah Williams (New Britain, Conn.) drew a charge on a fastbreak opportunity, igniting the USJ bench, but it was not enough to hang onto the lead. The Mariners were just too aggressive, attacking the gaps in the Blue Jays' 3-2 zone. Junior guard Kelsey Hernandez (New Britain, Conn.) was 4-for-4 from the foul line, and MC led 10-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams were fighting back and forth defensively—forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. Unfortunately, many opportunities were lost, as both teams forced more turnovers the more they ran the floor. The teams combined for 24 turnovers in the first half.
After a timeout by Blue Jay Head Coach Wendy Davis, Saint Joe's went back to work, down 16-8, midway through the second quarter. They got several open looks from Chevarella, and sophomore guard Raelynn Voislow (Windsor Locks, Conn.) but they could not convert.
Meanwhile, Wiley and Santana continued to attack the glass. Both finished with six points and six rebounds in the first half, scoring on several second-chances. The Mariners extended the gap to nine at the half, 21-12. Both teams shot under 30% for the half, but MC was plus 10 on the boards. Smith scored six points of her own in the first half on 3-of-4 shooting for Saint Joe's.
The Blue Jays came out of the locker room determined to cut into the lead. They could not get any closer, as the size and strength of the Mariners wore them down. Wiley dominated inside—when she wasn't scoring or rebounding, she was either clogging the lane defensively, or keeping the back line of the 3-2 zone in tact. MC forced many of their turnovers with tenacious on-ball pressure, especially when a ballhandler picked up the ball, or when anticipating where passers would throw the ball next. Hernandez had several steals that way.
MC built a 20-point lead after three quarters, 39-19, and held on for the win.
Saint Joe's does not play their next game until Saturday, January 5th, when they host Northern Vermont-Lyndon (VT) at 3:00 p.m., inside the O'Connell Athletic Center, on the campus of USJ. Mitchell is headed home for a matchup with Wentworth (MA) Saturday, December 15th, at 2:30 p.m.