Women’s Basketball: Lions push Eagles
Just nine wins away from 500 in his Vanguard University coaching career, Lions women’s basketball head man Russ Davis isn’t much impressed or interested in moral victories.
But even after his team came up short, 88-83, to visiting Concordia in a Golden State Athletic Conference overtime war on Saturday at Lions’ gym, Davis couldn’t help but be impressed by his team’s plucky performance.
The No. 13-ranked Lions (13-5, 5-3 in conference) came within a couple plays of upsetting the No. 9-ranked Eagles (15-3, 8-0), who were much bigger, stronger, deeper, quicker and more athletic.
“Look at their team and look at ours,” Davis said plainly after the seesaw battle that featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes. “We don’t have bodies like that.”
The Eagles ultimately used their physical superiority to overwhelm the Lions, who were carried largely by the two-pronged offensive attack of juniors Riley Holsinger and Samantha Doucette.
Holsinger, who hit the tying three-pointer with four seconds left in regulation, finished with a game-high 37 points, 24 of which came after halftime.
“I thought in the first half, she rushed her shots,” Davis said of the 5-foot-10 guard, who came in averaging a team-best 19.9 points per game. “And she didn’t shoot very well, going nine for 28 [from the field, including two for seven from three-point distance]. But she got to the free-throw line [converting 17 of 21 to account for nearly a quarter of the game’s 70 combined foul shots]. She’s just tough. She’s a gamer.”
Holsinger added 10 rebounds in 41 minutes and, having to shoot through contact that included a handful of blocked and altered attempts, she tacked three traditional three-point plays onto her two connections from threedom.
With Vanguard trailing, 86-83, with 14 seconds left, Holsinger hoisted a three-point attempt from the left wing that was blocked and retrieved by the Eagles.
Doucette was also heroic for the hosts, making 10 of 18 field-goal tries and all five of her foul shots to finish with 26 points. She had five rebounds and played the first 44 minutes without a break, before fouling out, one of three Lions who exited with five fouls.
Junior post Amber Alexander had four points, 10 rebounds and a team-leading three steals, despite giving up two to four inches to three members of Concordia’s front-line rotation.
Sophomore Maya Kennedy had all nine of her points in the second half, when she made four of seven field-goal attempts to help supplement the prolific performances of Holsinger and Doucette. Kennedy added three assists to share the team lead with junior reserve Lauren Martin, and also had one steal.
Offense appeared problematic early for the Lions, who missed their first five shots and were two for 11 from the field in the early going, due largely to the Eagles’ aggressive and agile man-to-man defense.
“We couldn’t move,” Davis said of the defensive pressure, which eventually led to a stream of fouls that caused the Eagles to back off slightly and allow Vanguard to find its footing at the offensive end.
After trailing, 15-4, Vanguard battled back and took its first lead, 25-24, on a Holsinger three-pointer with 3:36 left in the first half.
The Lions seized a 48-42 advantage with 12:34 left in regulation and were up, 60-58, with 7:46 left in regulation, before the Eagles went on a 10-0 spurt that gave them a 68-60 advantage with 3:51 left.
The Concordia lead was 75-68 with 1:27 left, but Holsinger followed with a three-point play, before Doucette answered an Eagle free throw with a running 10-footer to pull the Lions within three.
After a Holsinger steal, Doucette missed a three-point try with 27 seconds left in regulation.
But two missed free-throw attempts gave Vanguard another chance and Holsinger connected after a pump fake, from the top of the key to force the extra session.
Concordia, which has four Division I bounce-back players, three of whom start, and has now won 11 straight against NAIA opponents, did not trail in overtime.
Senior Janis Peterson had 28 of her team-leading 32 points after halftime, including five in overtime to lead the Eagles. Ashley Ellis, a 6-foot-4 senior reserve, had 16 of her 17 points after halftime and led the winners with nine rebounds. Ellis was six for nine from the field and five for six from the foul line, including two free throws with 10 seconds left in overtime to finalize the scoring.
The Concordia bench outscored Vanguard’s reserves, 35-7.
Golden State Athletic Conference
Concordia 88, Vanguard 83 (OT)
CUI – Stafford 9, Offutt 2, Peterson 32, Crawford 10, Ogdon 0, Ellis 17, Bishop 12, Crockom 6.
3-pt. goals – Bishop 3, Crawford 2, Peterson 1.
Fouled out – Crawford, Ogdon.
Technicals – None.
VU – Alexander 4, Goff 0, Holsinger 37, Doucette 26, Kennedy 9, Durr 3, Martin 2, Zugasti 2.
3-pt. goals – Holsinger 2, Doucette 1, Durr 1, Kennedy 1.
Fouled out – Goff, Alexander, Doucette.
Technicals – None.
Halftime – 30-30.