Flying high after 2-0 start to MAAC

By Robert Janish

Senior Sports Writer

After heading into this past weekend winless on the road, the women’s basketball team made a resounding statement, sweeping the weekend and starting their 2015-16 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference campaign with a 2-0 unbeaten record with wins over both St. Peter’s and Rider.

Senior forward Jasmine Mungo, who is currently averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the MAAC through two games, believes that their victories were the result of “a complete team effort.” The team was excited for the start of conference play for the year and to win a championship as well “so having a good start was definitely important for us.”

Senior guard Tiahana Mills says what helped contribute to both wins was “the way we’ve been preparing in practice.” She said how there’s a difference from last year to now and that “we’re still pushing and that our bodies are ready for games the next day.”

Despite the fact that they won the first two games of MAAC, Mungo says that Zeh is just trying to keep the team at an even level and not thinking too far ahead too early. “We just want to make sure that we’re able to come into practice, work hard everyday and we have to be able to continue this stretch in order to continue our success.”

“It definitely helps to start the MAAC 2-0,” Mills said. While this current stretch of wins is impressive, the end goal is try and win every game, especially those within the conference. “It’s a great start but we have a lot of work to get to what we’re trying to reach.”

“It’s definitely a confidence builder because now we know that we can win,” Mungo said, agreeing with her teammate’s thoughts. While she would like for this stretch of success to continue, this is indeed a great achievement for the team and will surely help them going forward.

Although early in the MAAC season, the two road wins put the Griffs in a tie for first place in the MAAC with Manhattan, Siena, Iona, and Marist also sitting at 2-0.

Mungo says that improvements can always be made on both sides of the ball, and “defensively, we’ve had a lot of dribble penetration that [Zeh] wants us to work on. Especially as teams scout us, we have to be more conservative with completing possessions.” Offensively, “we just have to be able to continue to play off our motion where we can just access everybody’s strengths.”

The team is still trying to actively get better, despite winning five straight games. Offensively, they’re trying to play to their strengths and “we’ve just been trying to work on getting our motion down and we’re trying to execute our quick hitters better as well, ” Mills added.

Mills, who is averaging 13.5 ppg and 4 apg in the MAAC thus far, believes that the key for her offensively is to be to get the offense started, which includes “executing the plays, setting screens, and also coming off screens.”

While it’s not important to focus on these two games in particular, Mungo does believe that “it was definitely important” to get these wins. Mungo also stresses the importance of these wins, especially with heading on the road and playing two games in Texas. “Having this confidence right before going to such a big game like that is going to be good.”

After starting the year 0-2 on the road, “getting those two conference road wins is definitely going to help us build momentum, especially being away this upcoming week.” Mills said that this next road stretch is going to be tough for the team, especially considering the teams they will be playing against. “We’re going to be headed up there expecting to win and playing our hardest.”

Mungo does indeed believe in the focus it takes to win consecutive games on the road, especially in such a short period of time as well. “It’s a very difficult thing to do and you have to be very focused in order to do those things.” It was such a remarkable start to MAAC play for this team and “we just want to continue to do that everyday, and I think it will be important for other teams to realize that we’re somebody to reckon with and it’s also good for us to make sure that we rise to the occasion every time we’re playing.”

“The wins were very important for us,” Mills said when addressing the great start they’ve earned in the MAAC so far. “Those two wins helped us get a step closer to our goals, but we’re far from reaching those goals, so we have a lot of work to do.”
Heading to the Lone Star state next week, the Griffs  begin a lengthy road trip hoping for success before coming home Tuesday, Dec. 29 to take on rival St. Bonaventure at the Koessler Athletic Center. MAAC play will resume Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 when they take on the Fairfield Stags in their conference home opener.

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