Lady Wildcats Grind to a 69-64 Win Over St. Thomas
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Bethune-Cookman Lady Wildcats (1-2) grinded out a home opener win over St. Thomas (0-2) before a crowd of 829, Thursday night at Richard V. Moore Gymnasium. B-CU fended off multiple rally attempts to hold on for the 69-64 win, keeping sixth-year Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis perfect in home openers at 6-0.
It common sense that it’s always great to get the win, but not every victory is satisfying.
“We have to come and play with that energy no matter who we’re playing, for 40 minutes, and not take them lightly,” Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said.
“We have to play better defense,” Blair-Lewis added. “Everybody has to take that onus and that responsibility to be able to contain and defend their own man.”
The Lady Wildcats came out with great intensity but scored in spurts throughout tonight’s contest, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the opening three minutes. After facing the game’s first tie, B-CU ran off six consecutive points, but the Bobcats rallied for their second and final lead of the game, at 17-16 with 8:51 on the clock, on a pair of free throws by Daniella Ciccarone.
Set off by a silencing three-pointer from sophomore guard Deja Gibson, B-CU launched into an 8-0 run to create some breathing room. Fending off an STU push, the Lady Wildcats extended their advantage into double digits for the first time, touching an 11-point lead with 2:36 to go before half; the largest of the night. The Bobcats dropped three free throws to narrow the gap, as B-CU went into the locker room leading 35-28.
Coming out of half, the teams traded blows, but the Lady Wildcats were able to keep separation courtesy of a strong inside game on both ends of the court, most notably the shot-changing ability of redshirt freshman center Kailyn Williams, who finished with six blocks on the night.
Opening with 13:44 on the clock, the Bobcats began to rally, hitting the glass for second chance points and drawing Lady Wildcat fouls, allowing St. Thomas to trim the deficit to three just beyond the midpoint of the period.
B-CU pushed back with huge three-pointers on consecutive possessions from senior Chastity René Taylor and freshman Kendra Cooper, and a pair of free throws from senior point guard Shakeyia Colyer extended the B-CU advantage to match the game high of 11 with 5:21 to go.
On the opposite end, four unanswered free throws allowed the Bobcats to creep back in, and consecutive fast break layups from Ciccarone and Jessica Montalvo narrowed the margin to three with two minutes remaining.
“Late in the first half and most of the second half, it was just tough for us to keep the offensive player in front of us,” Blair-Lewis commented. “We fouled way too much and put them on the free throw line.”
After struggling from the line in the first two games of the season, the Lady Wildcats rose to the occasion, using six consecutive hits from the line to secure the 69-64 win.
B-CU’s offense arose from a variety of sources, with four players reaching double figures. Taylor topped the group with a quiet 18 points, including 12 in the second half. Coming up big in the first half for B-CU, Deja Gibson went 4-for-7 and was perfect from the line to tally a career-high 13 points. Colyer and Cooper each collected 10, with Colyer logging seven rebounds.
“On any given night, it can be any one of their nights and we practice that way,” Blair-Lewis said. “All of them play a part in our offense, and they’re all expected to be able to come through and connect when then get open looks.”
Another major factor in both halves, Taylor Houston drew close to a double double before foul trouble interrupted, logging a career highs of eight rebounds and three steals, while matching a career high of eight points.
“I though she played very poised tonight on the offensive and defensive end,” Blair-Lewis said of Houston’s performance.
The Lady Wildcats shot 39.3 percent from the floor and 83.3 percent from the line. B-CU’s ball protection was also very effective tonight, committing just nine turnovers, while grabbing nine steals.
“It’s always easier to shoot on your home court, and tonight the girls understood that we have to do a better job of shooting free throws,” Blair-Lewis noted.
The Lady Wildcats return to action next week, playing host to cross-county rival Stetson (0-1) on Nov. 20 in a 7 p.m. face-off at Richard V. Moore Gymnasium.
For all the latest information on the Bethune-Cookman Lady Wildcats, follow the official Twitter feeds,@BCUWBB or @BCUathletics, or "Like Us" on Facebook at BCUathletics.
The official hashtags for tonight’s game will be: #BeatSTU and #HailWildcats
To join the conversation about the 2013-14 season, please tag your social media posts with the official hashtag of B-CU women's basketball, #PlayersStartTeamsFinish. And, of course, don't forget about#HailWildcats.