By Marshall Haim
Assistant Sports Editor
The Griffs women’s basketball team started their 2016-17 season over this past week with two games. The first game of the season, the home opener for Griffs, did not go as planned with a loss to Northeastern on Sunday, 83-59.
Canisius couldn’t find the right success on both sides of the ball against a tall and skilled Huskies team. The Griffs shot 38 percent from the field, while allowing 14 offensive rebounds and 16 second chance points to Northeastern.
Contrary to last season, the Griffs did not heavily rely on the 3-point ball, only attempting 12 such shots. Maria Welch and Sara Hinriksdottir tied for the team’s highest 3-point attempts in the loss, with three each. Welch converted on two, helping her have a share of the team-high in points (14) with Margret Halfdanardottir. Hinriksdottir made one of her three-point attempts, finishing the day off with seven points.
Free throws were another killer for the Griffs as they were only able to shoot 64 percent (18-for-28) from the charity stripe. Canisius was able to force the Huskies into foul trouble as Northeastern had five players finish the game with four fouls. The Griffs, forcing the Huskies to foul more, had 18 more attempts at the foul line than Northeastern.
“We didn’t have a lot of positives so this is going to be one of those tough games to learn from,” said Terry Zeh, who enters his thirteenth season at the helm of the team, to gogriffs.com. “There were a lot of negatives and we just weren’t very good. I thought in the second half when we tried to make a run a couple of times, got a couple stops, but then that was it.”
The opening quarters of each half were very productive for the Griffs as they scored 20 points in both. They struggled in the following quarters, mustering 19 points collectively in the quarters combined. Turnovers also harmed the Griffs, ending the game with 15 miscues that enabled the Huskies to score 22 points off them.
The game also featured Anna Sweny, a freshman from Erie, PA, playing in her first collegiate game. The guard played 11 minutes, scoring four points (a three-pointer and a free throw) while hauling in one rebound.
Redshirt senior Emily Weber played in her first game since the 2014-15 season, after sustaining a knee injury that forced her to sit out all of last season. She played 16 minutes, scored six points (four of which came of free throws), while also getting a rebound. Tamara Miskovic played 11 minutes in her first game since suffering a knee injury last season. She had three assists and a rebound.
On Wednesday, the Griffs played their first road game of the season, traveling to Olean, NY to play Big 4 foe, St. Bonaventure. The meeting between the Griffs and Bonnies was the 52nd such meeting between the two Western New York schools.
Canisius snapped their 10-game losing streak with a 74-57 win over St. Bonaventure. Lauren D’Hont led the Griffs with 15 points, adding six rebounds and two assists. Halfdanardottir and Welch chipped in with 14 points apiece, while Hinriksdottir and Saliah Serrette rounded out the leading scorers scoring 12 points, each. The Griffs had five players score at least 10 points for the first time since the 2014-15 season (Nov. 30, 2014 against the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash).
“It definitely started on the defensive end,” D’Hont said about the Griffs’ success. “We were able to get stops and take away what they wanted to. It just propelled us to the offense to get buckets.”
Starter Sarah Cooley (illness) and Weber (death in family) did not make the trip to St. Bonaventure, but the team was able to win for both players. Zeh hopes that the energy from the win will carry over into their next game, which will be Sunday at home against the University at Akron Zips.
“Obviously when you get a win on the road, we haven’t won down here since Jesus was a child,” Zeh said, who won his second-ever game against his alma mater. “We’re going to carry [the energy], and this team is close. They were playing for Emily and her family. When you have a really close team, that’s a strong bond that you don’t want to let them down and want to give your best effort.”
D’Hont scored her highest point total since her 16-point performance last season at Northeastern (Dec. 21). The senior has also started in her last 32 games, the highest active streak on the team. Halfdanardottir owns the second longest streak (31).
Sophomore forward Amanda Schiefen has stepped into her new role this season, earning her first career start on Wednesday, filling in the starting five for Cooley. The 28 minutes played for Schiefen is a new career-high, breaking her previous record that was set against Northeastern on Sunday (12).
Hinriksdottir has enjoyed offensive success so far through the first two games, averaging 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest. She has played the most time out of all non-starters, averaging 22.5 minutes per game. She credited the closeness of the team for their success against the Bonnies on Wednesday.
“It was great, we had a lot of energy,” Hinriksdottir said about the win. “We talked about playing for Cooley and Weber because they weren’t able to make it; we did it for them.”
Canisius (1-1) will host Akron on Sunday before they have a quick turn-around to play St. Francis (PA) on Tuesday morning for an 11 a.m. tip-off. Their early morning game is the last road game before the Griffs have four consecutive home games.