Searching for wins on two game road trip

By Robert Janish

Senior Sports Writer

Currently 4-8 and in a tie for 8th place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference along with the archrival Niagara Purple Eagles, the Griffs’ women basketball team will embark on a weekend road trip to face the Manhattan Jaspers and Monmouth Eagles, two teams sitting in the middle of the pack at 6-5 and 5-7, respectively.

The team is coming off an impressive showing last week in games against Niagara and Iona. Even though they beat Niagara and lost to Iona, both games went to overtime and really showed the toughness and determination that this team brings to the court each game.

Facing the Purple Eagles on the road last Thursday, Senior Crystal Porter and Sophomore Margret Halfdanardottir led their team to a hard-fought 68-66 win in OT. Porter hit the game-winning layup with under eight seconds left in the extra frame.

Halfdanardottir helped out her fellow Griffs in the win by putting in 19 points, along with shooting 5-of-8 from the three-point line, showing her potential with another outstanding shooting night. Porter scored 22, including the layup that put her team over the Purple Eagles. She also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists; thi was one of her best overall games of the year thus far.

However, the team failed to continue their streak on Monday in the Koessler Athletic Center against the first-place Iona Gaels. Despite strong showings from Junior Lauren D’Hont and Freshman standout Maria Welch, the team fell 79-76 and to 4-8 in the conference. Shooting 4-of-8 from beyond the three-point line, Welch shared the team lead in scoring with 16 points along with Porter.

Coach Terry Zeh says a huge positive from their last couple matchups was that “we took the first place team into overtime and had a chance to win it.” He praised the team’s tenacity, being down by 10 late in the game and to come back and take the game to overtime. The Griffs even held the lead at one point in overtime.

Their performance also sends a clear message to the team that “this is the best team in the league and we had a chance to win, and if that’s the case, then that should translate into us being able to do that in other games.”

Porter says that Zeh has “been really positive lately,” despite all the injuries that they have faced throughout the year. “In practice lately, we have been making a lot of adjustments and it’s been really good,” she says.

Halfdanardottir says the team is adjusting to their situation and “it’s going to be different, but we still believe that we can win games.” She stressed how the team responds to change by their second half performance after Junior Tamara Miskovic was injured.

Porter said that Zeh has been addressing their opponents this weekend, saying that they play a more athletic and quicker game, but “we just have to be smarter and we have to outsmart their game, and that’s the game plan for right now.”

Zeh praised his team’s passing ability of late, saying “it’s been really good,” and “our passing and movement without the basketball has been really, really good and we got to continue to do that because that’s the kind of team we are.”

However, something Zeh believes the team needs to improve on is “at the end of the game when we’re trying to execute a play and that gets blown up a little bit. How do we make that read out of it and make sure that we can make those reads.”

Halfdanardottir believes the key to victory is taking away their opponents’ ability to score. “They really like to steal the ball and make us turn it over, so we just got to make sure that doesn’t happen and to take that away from them.”

Halfdanardottir also says that with the additional number of point guards on the team right now  “everybody’s going to be ready to take (the ball) up. (Porter) will also have to play the two or three (position) sometimes, we’ve been rotating that position in our plays and make everybody try every spot.”

“A big thing for us is going to be, we got to do a better job rebounding right now,” Zeh said. He added that Iona took 30 more shots, and that was the result of turning the ball over and not grabbing enough offensive rebounds.

“We’re not getting as many quality shots because we had a couple turnovers and we’re giving them too many because of offensive rebounds, so that’s something we have to be particularly attentive to,” Zeh added.

“Me and (Halfdanardottir) just try to feed our energy and give it to the team,” Porter said. She adds that their energy was lacking before the Iona game and it’s important to have that energy in game situations. Halfdanardottir, however, believes that another key is spreading the ball for other teammates to score. “They came out against me and (Porter) a little bit, and everybody else started to score. Everybody else kind of stepped up and that’s exactly what we need, everybody needs to score on this team so we need to be ready.”

“It would be awesome if we could have these two victories,” Porter added. She believes it would be important to show that “we still have it even though we about three or four injuries, and that it’s okay because we’re still talented.” Halfdanardottir concurs with her teammate, saying that “there have been too many close games, and we really owe it to ourselves to win.”

“Anyone wants to be playing their best basketball as you get into February and especially March,” Zeh said, referring to the importance of winning games now than at any other point in the season.

Zeh added that “each and every game is important and we just look at it as trying to get this win, so win or lose they’re all the same importance, and you just try and prepare yourself the best you can to get each one you can.”
This weekend’s road trip is very pivotal for the Griffs and their season in hopes of trying to get some big wins and earn some momentum heading into the MAAC Tournament in Albany just under a month from now.

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