Following in the footsteps of an impressive win this past Thursday against Rockhurst, the Rangers got on a run and never got off the throttle in a 89-65 win.
“It was a great win,” said assistant coach Brad Fischer after the game. “That’s a pretty good team. Their record is not great, but they have a lot of kids that can play. They’re pretty deep. We were able to expand on a lead consistently again, which is something in the past we struggled with. This year so far we’ve shown the ability to get a lead and extend it, and be able to finish games off.”
The UW-Parkside Rangers (6-1) were playing against the UM-St. Louis Tritons (1-6) Saturday afternoon at DeSimone Gymnasium. While the match-up favored Parkside, the first half was quite closely played between the two teams from the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Tritons size was an area that the Rangers were going to have to work around, but, for assistant coach Fischer, it wasn’t something they were going to be phased by.
“Regardless of their size, we feel like if teams are bigger we’ll have the quickness advantage,” said Fischer. “We feel like we’re a good happy medium where we have enough size, athleticism, strength, and toughness that we’ll be able to score on people.”
In the first half, the Rangers trailed by five points before heading on a ten point run, a lead they would never lose from that point on. The charge was lead by sophomores Brittany Beyer and Jadee Rooney, who scored twelve and thirteen points respectively in the first half.
It didn’t take long to tell what the game plans were for both teams as well. The Rangers, as has been the case for the year, looked for high percentage shots down low. In the first half, the Rangers actually outscored the Tritons 18-2 in the paint.
“That’s where you make your hay,” said Fischer. “We pride ourselves on making high percentage shots all the time. If you look at our shot chart, it’s coming from underneath the basket. If you settle too much for jump shots you can when a game here or there, but you can’t win consistently.”
The UW-St. Louis Tritons were looking shots out of the paint, and around the arch. The Tritons would go 5-11 from beyond the arch in the first, but that wasn’t their biggest problem.
What helped Parkside win this game in the first half was their ability to draw fouls and get points off of turnovers. The Tritons were already up to their tenth personal foul around five minutes left in the first half, and would go on to commit twenty-six personal fouls in the game. The Rangers also converted seven Triton turnovers into eleven points in the first half.
As the second half got rolling, so did the lead for Parkside. The Rangers held UM-St. Louis pointless on their first three possessions of the second half, and would stretch the lead further and further, getting as big as twenty-seven with four minutes left in the game.
With excellent performances by senior guard Amanda Gibson, as well as strong second halves by Rooney, Beyer, and by centers Brittany Hogan and Kristen Ruchti, the Rangers were able to use their freshman late in the game.
“It was good for the freshmen to see what a better conference team looks like,” Fischer mentioned. “They’ll just keep getting tougher and tougher. We have three really tough games in four days next week, against teams in the past we’ve struggled with, so I think the fact we’ve struggled with these teams ahead means they’ll probably stay pretty focused.”
Freshman forward Karisa Laskowski was able to get the Parkside bench to their feet twice after knocking down 2-3 from the field, one of which was a deep three pointer.
“(Laskowski) is getting better,” said Fischer. “She hit some shots late, and her offensive game is coming too. It’s a matter of the freshman getting more comfortable. Kristen Ruchti is getting more comfortable in the post, and Kristen Laskowski is getting more comfortable on the perimeter. The extra player or two to go into the rotation would be huge for us, and our depth.”
Overall, Parkside won this game through a solid game in the paint, at the line, and generating UM-St. Louis mistakes into points. With a big twenty-four point win today coming off of a thirty point thumping of visiting Rockhurst, it does question whether overconfidence could come into the picture as the Rangers improved to 2-0 within conference play.
“Overconfidence can be a problem if you let it be a problem,” said Fischer. “We’ve done a good job of having a little bit of the big picture in mind. I think we’re really good at going game to game, and really concentrating. At the same time, I think having a good year last year taught us what the goal is at the end, and how well you have to play at the whole time.”
The Rangers are scheduled to play two non-conference games this coming weekend. They’ll be playing against the Robert Morris Eagles this coming Saturday, and then Cardinal Stritch University Wolves Sunday.