Jersey City, NJ - Just nine days ago St. Peter's traveled to Niagara and was dealt a 32-point beating. On Sunday afternoon, St. Peter's evened things, defeating Niagara 67-55. The game at Yanitelli Center saw 6 ties and 4 lead changes.
"When we played them at their place they must have shot 80%," St. Peter's coach Pat Coyle said of Niagara. "Also, we played probably our worst game."
On this afternoon the result, and Coyle's mood, were altered drastically. As pleasing as the win was, the conditions under which it was achieved were of greater satisfaction.
"We had three kids down (injuries)," Coyle said. "I am extremely proud of their effort."
Niagara likes to push the pace. The first half was contested at 31 possessions. That would put the game in a low 60, deliberate tempo. The second half pace was quicker, more to Niagara's liking.
"Pace did not matter," said Niagara coach Kendra Faustin. "The bottom line is we did not defend, especially in the post."
Faustin was especially alluding to St. Peter's' Kaydine Bent. The 6-1 Senior center scored a team high 21 points while grabbing 22 boards (10 of them on the offensive end).
"She (Bent) was phenomenal," Faustin said. "She scored almost at will. She scored one on one. She rebounded , posted hit free throws and was patient against a double team."
Bent, in basic terms, was too much for Niagara to handle.
Faustin pointed out that her club shoots better in the confines of their home Gallagher Center. No intended excuse for the 35% field goal percentage they turned in. Meghan McGuinness knocked down 5 threes leading the way for Niagara with 21 points. The junior guard proved to be Niagara's only consistent scoring threat.
In the end, the interior defense, In Faustin's estimation the defense, or lack of it, was the difference.
"We just did not do a good job on defense," Faustin said. "We need a much better effort."
Both teams cared for the ball very well. Niagara's TO rate was 17% while St. Peter's came in at 16%. Both figures above average. St. Peter's hustle and hard work was reflected in a 38-14% edge in offensive rebounding percentage. Kaydine Bent had 10 offensive baords, twice that of the entire Niagara team.
Defense. St. Peter's held Niagara to two field goals the final dozen minutes of the game. One of those the final minute with the outcome settled.
Faustin on the MAAC: "There is so much parity more than I've seen in my seven years (at Niagara). There are a few teams separated from the pack at the top. After that it is a very evenly matched group. It is hard too even win at home and harder to win on the road."
Niagara is 4-11, 2-4 in the MAAC. St. Peter's is now 3-12 and 2-4 in conference play as well.
Once again Hala Mustafa had a nice outing for St. Peter's . The 6-1 sophomore center hit an early three, Coyle believes was important.
"Once she (Mostafa) hit that three," Coyle observed," their defense came out to play her and that opened things even more for our inside game."
Mostafa hails from Cairo, Egypt and was asked about the recent weather in the New York area . Snow followed by severe cold early in the week.
"I like the snow," she said smiling. "Cairo has not had snow in 112 yeas so it is a different experience for me. I like it a lot."
But what about the mercury dropping to eight degrees last Tuesday?
"Just a little bit cold for me."
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