Lady Wildcats Move to 2-1 with 71-61 Win Over Florida Atlantic
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Lady Wildcats continued a great start at home on Friday, battling it out with Florida Atlantic for the 71-61 win in historic Richard V. Moore Gymnasium. It was an all-around performance from the team, which executed the game plan perfectly, as Bethune-Cookman held off several Owls charges in the second half.
The Lady Wildcats (2-1) trailed early, as the tough FAU (1-1) zone press forced B-CU into early turnovers, converted to points by the Owls. B-CU began attacking the press, which presented the opportunity to spread the defense. The Lady Wildcats took the lead for the last time with 3:24 on the clock in the first half, carrying a 30-25 lead into the half.
“What we did was get the ball out of our point guard’s hand and let our four players, Sharnese [Neal] and Terrenisha [Hollis] bring the ball up against another four player and just look to attack,” Head Coach Vanessa Blair said. “That’s really how we were able to break it open.”
As the offense turned it on, B-CU stepped up on the defensive end at the same time and protected the basket with extensive pressure before settling into a zone to keep the taller FAU forwards out of the game, and limiting the Owls to just 18 points in the paint all night.
B-CU began to pull away just before the midpoint of the second half, aided by an 8-2 run, but the Owls came storming back as the game wound down, narrowing the B-CU lead to one with just over five minutes to play. A tough night from the free throw line (51.7 percent on the night) granted an opening for FAU, but hustle on the offensive glass put the Lady Wildcats in position to rebuild their lead. B-CU scored 14 on second-chance opportunities against the Owls in tonight’s contest.
Despite free throw woes throughout, the Lady Wildcats locked in at the charity stripe when it counted, hitting five-of-six in the final two minutes to secure the win over the Sun Belt Conference foe which defeated B-CU twice in 2011-12.
“To get [to the free throw line] almost 30 times tonight and not do better, that’s something that we definitely have to work on, but down the stretch they stepped up, and they connected,” Blair said.
Hairston collected her 14 on 70 percent shooting, while also grabbing seven rebounds to co-lead the team (with Sharnese Neal), a career-high five blocks, three steals and an assist. In fact, the only category she didn’t log a stat in was turnovers.
Hollis also finished with six rebounds, five on the defensive glass, along with a pair of steals, shooting 6-of-11 from the floor.
“Tonight I just showed up for my team,” Hollis said. “I wanted to perform well and get the win for my team. Even though the win is good, we’re not going to leave it at that, we’ve got to keep moving forward.”
The win makes it consecutive seasons opening the year 2-1, and the third time in the Vanessa Blair era. The Lady Wildcats return to the court in a 7 p.m. road meeting with Stetson, next Tuesday, Nov. 20, as B-CU will be pursuing the first 3-1 opening record since 2008-09.
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Blair on Forward Terrenisha Hollis:
“You look at her and she looks slight, but she is very athletic. She has played the small forward position as well as playing the wing position. Right now for our team she is getting her minutes more at the post, and if you look at her, you think ‘wow, she’s undersized’, but she plays very big.”
“She has guard-type skills, so it’s
tough to defend her as a regular post player.”
Blair on Center Amanda Hairston:
“This is what’s expected of Amanda on this team. She is our go-to post player. What makes Amanda that much better this year is that she’s completely healthy, so now you’re getting to see Amanda at her full potential, and she is leading and playing well for this program.”
Junior Center Amanda Hairston:
I feel like, as a team we stuck together through trials. I felt like we kept our heads and we stayed working together no matter what happened on the court, we tried to work together as a team.