Just the Facts, Ma'am: True to their name, the Terriers of St. Francis College never gave up, cutting a 12-point halftime lead to one late in the game, but ultimately the Blackbirds of Long Island took the Battle of Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights, 60-53. Ashley Palmer of Long Island led all scorers with 20 points, adding seven rebounds; she was named the Most Valuable Player of the game. Jasmin Robinson led the Terriers with 17 points, 16 in the second half, while Sarah Benedetti had 11, nine of them in the second half.
For heart, telegraphed passes, wild passes, flying forwards, stupid fouls, and a distinct lack of discipline, join your intrepid and belated blogger after the jump.
And now for something completely different... coming to you on tape delay from Peter Aquilone Court on the grounds of St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York, it's the Battle of Brooklyn! For pride! For glory! For... one team hoping and praying to win a game and another hoping to build something in conference play.
St. Francis's facilities are not as bad as I remembered. Chairback seating is very much appreciated. It still does look like a glorified gym.
I think we're sitting behind Ashley Palmer's mom. Which would be awesome if true, because Palmer is having herself quite a game. Kiara Evans is also running a very nice offense. It's 32-20 Long Island at the half, and that's with St. Francis College scoring the first four points of the game. Unlike the PA announcer, I will not be calling them St. Francis College at every occasion. I understand why he does it- they share a conference with St. Francis University- but it's really annoying.
They played Whitney Houston's version of the anthem. Very nice.
So far the play of the game, for good or for ill, has been Mary Ann Abrams getting hit in the face with a rebound. Using your head, you're doing it wrong. Palmer and her amazing arcing shot have 17 points.
One of their guys is collecting pennies for a cause. I don't know what cause it is, but it's only pennies, what's the worst that could happen? The label on the jar is pink, so BHA is our guess.
I think we also found our St. Francis equivalents in the front row- there's a young woman who's been cheering the entire game. There's always one... not that that's a bad thing. The sport needs more passionate and committed fans of the sport.
It may be rude of me to call something a stupid, stupid foul, but if you commit a ticky-tack reach-in for no discernible reason 85 feet from the basket for your team's seventh foul, I will call it a stupid, stupid foul every single time and twice on Sundays. I don't play nice.
This wasn't St. Francis's BHA game (which is, in fact, not a PinkZone/Play4Kay game), so I'm not sure why Long Island had the pink t-shirts. Whatever floats your boat.
Gail Streigler, why in the nine classical circles of Dante's Inferno would you call a timeout with your shooter at the line? And why in the nine spheres of Paradiso would you do that with your last timeout? It's a good thing that it was a two-score game at the time- Pat Coyle got fired for a move that stupid! It was such a stupid move that the scoreboard operator initially thought it was St. Francis's timeout! Why? WHY would you do that? WHY?
I think I'm done with that. Moving right along.
Letava Whippy needs to figure out how to run backwards. Once she does that, her defense will improve by leaps and bounds- she's got good instincts for a freshman, and a pretty good idea of how to use her long limbs. Marika Sprow is still a defensive specialist, and that's okay. Ebony Davis did a nice job on the boards, but she was the one committing the fouls that put LIU in a bad way in the second half- the seventh deadly sin, the tenth team foul, and a foul in the last ten seconds. To say that she had lousy timing would be an understatement. Tiffany Patterson played briefly, and was mostly inconveniently tall and raw. Tamika Guz brought size, but I thought she played an awful lot around the perimeter, which is... not her strength. It's not like the Terriers have a lot of size; I'm surprised they didn't try to feed her more. MaryAnn Abrams (who apparently showed up way late, what gives?) was a hot mess, and didn't play in the second half. I still can't get past getting hit in the face with a rebound.
Krystal Wells got things going for the Blackbirds, but I got the sense that she was trying to force things too much, pressing too hard and going for the big play when she just needed the right play. I like her and always have, but she might be one of those players who's more suited to a bench role. Cleandra Roberts did a good job getting to the rack, but couldn't finish. At least she got her free throws to drop. A quiet game from She'Tiarra Pledger. Kiara Evans ran the offense, and as she went, so went LIU- for good and for ill. It looked like she was losing her composure near the end of the game, and as that happened, the team started to unravel. But when she was on point, so was LIU- she has such a beautiful lookaway pass, and a definite sense of command that a good point guard has. And Ashley Palmer did that thing where she threw up shots that almost scraped the ceiling that fell through the net with a splash, and somehow powered her way up and through for rebounds, and generally decided that her team was not losing this game. She was the finisher, both inside and out. I rue the day that she faces one of the really huge shot-blockers, though. She's going to get swatted, and it will be brutal.
In general, Long Island tried too hard to make the flashy play, the showy play, the highlight reel play. Don't do that. Make the play that will win the game.
Stefanie Bingham didn't impress me. Kim Snauwaert did fairly well in the middle, setting picks and generally being a space filler. Colette Hounshell was much the same. In general, the St. Francis posts were more involved in the offense as screeners and passers than as targets.
Jasmin Robinson plays like someone who's watched a lot of streetball and knows all the moves, but can't quite pull them off- okay, except for the beautiful steal on a sure fast break by LIU. She came up big in the second half, getting to the line and converting. Jaymee Vecey was the story of the first half for the Terriers- she got shut down in the second, though that might have had to do with the foot to the ribs she took- she hit a shot after that, but I'd be a little shy after that too. Sarah Benedetti's range impressed me for a woman of her build, and when she was hot in the second half, she was hot- she and Robinson spearheaded the comeback. There's something to be said for that kind of play from young players- there are no seniors on this St. Francis team, and only two juniors. Katie Fox did a good job drawing fouls, and generally looking like more of an offensive threat than she turned out to be- whether that was because she was a good player having a bad game, or because she was a good player being well-defended, or because LIU had a bad scouting report, I don't have enough of a sample size to judge.
Brenda Milano has never impressed me as a coach- my first impression of her was "crazy screaming person" and she has done nothing to persuade me otherwise. If she can work with these freshmen, really let them develop, by the time this big class hits their senior year, they can at least be mediocre instead of embarrassing. They put up a good fight in this game, but this kind of thing happens in rivalry games. I'd have to see them in a non-rivalry game, and trying to figure out my way around St. Francis is not worth it.
Dear referees, I am fairly certain that if a player is smushed among three opponents and hits the deck, the call is probably not a travel without some assistance. There were a few calls of that nature, and an elbow by Ebony Davis that we're all fortunate didn't connect, but otherwise it was a decently called game. I expect that from Kathy Lonergan, one of the few refs whose name I recognize without a flinch.
No, just no, to the St. Francis dance team.
We came hoping to see a good game, and we got a closely contested game. That's a plus- but it was closely contested due to unforced errors by the Blackbirds and sloppy passing by the Terriers. I'll give St. Francis- and Ashley Palmer on the other side- credit for heart and tenacity, but that game should not have been as close as it was.