The women’s basketball team returned to DeSimone Gymnasium after a three game road stint Wednesday evening, and continued their strong start to the year with a 70-58 win against the Robert Morris University Eagles. While the final box score shows a comfortable Parkside win, the Rangers truly needed to wear down the Eagles to pull out the win.
The Rangers struggled in this one for the better part of the game. The shots simply were not falling consistently, and, as good as Parkside is from the line, even their free throws were touch and go early. The Rangers shot 40% from the field in first half while the visiting Eagles of Robert Morris posted a 50% field goal percentage. The Rangers entered halftime losing, 30-31.
“We didn’t play very good,” admitted women’s head coach Jenny Kenesie, who is now four victories from tying Wendy Miller’s Parkside record for most wins as head coach in the program’s history. “We just really didn’t play with any confidence, any kind of fire, or emotion. If you do that against a pretty talented team, you’re in trouble.”
Fortunately, the Rangers’ defense helped dodge bigger damage that could have been done in the first half. Of the Rangers’ steals generated in the game, six of nine came in the first half. Parkside generated thirteen turnovers from Robert Morris in the first half that led to ten points purely off of the Eagles’ mistakes.
What kept the Eagles in this one, and such a threat as the game developed, was their speed and three-point shooting. It seemed as though every time Parkside was able to make a stop, then put up two on the following possession, Robert Morris would dish out a three pointer and stay right in the game. As the game rolled through the second half, the Eagles would go build their lead and stay out in front for the majority of the second half. They led by as much as eight points.
“If we play like this on a consistent basis, we’re going to have a real hard time winning basketball games in the GLVC,” stated coach Kenesie. “We’ve got such a long way to go, and a lot of it boils down to mental toughness. We just don’t have it right now consistently. Until we get it, we’re going to be a very average team.”
Parkside eventually found their groove with senior center Brittany Hogen in the paint. The Rangers were reduced to mid-range shots throughout the first half, but, somewhere along the line, the Rangers completely wore out the Eagles with Hogen down low. Hogen put up a game high of eighteen points to go with two steals and a 6/6 night at the foul line.
Also making her presence felt in the game was Jadee Rooney. Rooney, like a fair amount of players in the game, didn’t post the greatest shooting percentage, but she came up big with three pointers that spurred scoring runs for the Rangers when they needed it. She would put up sixteen points, three assists, and two steals.
With under ten minutes left in the second half, the Rangers pulled out of an eight point hole, and left the Eagles in a whirlwind of their own offensive problems. Robert Morris went 25.8% from the field in the second half, eight of thirty-one shooting. The Rangers’ defense looked good in tonight’s game, but the tough resurgent effort in the paint wore the Eagles out, and the game was pushed beyond their reach after the twelfth and final lead change of the game.
As noted, this was the Rangers’ first game home after a three game road trip. The Rangers lost the opener of that set, as they fell to Grand Valley State University 50-64. After GVSU, the Rangers opened up Great Lakes Valley Conference play up, and did so successfully. The Rangers opened things up within the GLVC with 75-56 victory over the University of Missouri St. Louis, and followed up with another win against Rockhurst, 55-34.
The women’s basketball team’s next game is on the road this coming Saturday against Northern Michigan University. The next home game will take place next Wednesday against Olivet Nazarene University. Both opponents are out of conference, but are going to test to the Rangers before the GLVC season opens up.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us the way we have been playing the last three or four weeks,” attested coach Kenesie. “We’ve got to turn things around. I know our record is 6-1, but we’ve just got to get better every day we step out on to the floor. It’s going to get tougher and tougher from here on out.”