Teaneck, NJ - For a good part of the second half they enjoyed a double digit lead. In the stretch there were decidedly anxious moments before Fairleigh Dickinson University held on to defeat St.Peter's 55-46 at FDU's Stratis Arena.
For FDU coach Peter Cinella there was satisfaction in his Northeast Conference team defeating a school from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). On the other hand while a victory is gratifying, there is realization of work to be done. The numbers bear this out:
Possessions: St. Peter's 75 FDU 73
Offensive Efficiency: St.Peter's 61 FDU 75
Neither team sparkled or lit up the efficiency column. In fact an improved second half allowed visiting St.Peter's to get the game to a one possession affair with two minutes to go.
The Peahens started in awful fashion, trailing 27-15 at halftime and showing a 41 offensive efficiency. The shooting percentages, both under 40% contributed but a major culprit was the turnovers. St.Peter's committed 16 (a 21% TO Rate) while FDU was guilty of 24 for a ridiculously high 33%.
"We are without Amanda (Andrades) our starting point guard due to (ankle) injury," Cinella said. "In her place Mariyah (Laury) ran the team. She did not play the greatest game of her career but down those last few minutes when we needed a basket she responded both times for us."
Laury, a senior guard, is more comfortable at the two. She led all scorers with 14 points, handed out 4 assists but had a game high 8 turnovers. Very often, it was a case of not applying the brakes. With FDU enjoying a double figure lead midway to the latter part of the second half, Laury would ignite the break and push the pace. All too often, the possession ended in a turnover.
Laury's running mate Danielle Pankey added 13 points but had 5 turnovers. Desiree Crawford, a sophomore forward and Erika Livermore, a freshman at the same position turned in very strong and encouraging performances. Crawford had 7 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocks. Livermore came off the bench to score 10 points and grab 10 boards.
St.Peter's was led by junior forward Jesika Holmes with 13 points, 12 rebounds. The six-foot Holmes showed very good footwork and inside moves, leading St. Peter's' second half run. The problem for Stephanie DeWolfe's club was the perimeter.
The Peahens shot 9.5% from three going 2 of 21 on the night. In fact, outside of Holmes (6 of 12 from the field), it was a shooting struggle for the visitors. They shot 26% from the field and 44% from the charity stripe. St.peter's fell to 0-4 while FDU improved to 3-5. Cinella did not completely blame his team for their turnover problems.
"St. Peter's gets you out of rhythm with their defensive intensity," he said. Still, the turnovers have been a season long problem as FDU entered the game with a 31% TO rate.
The attendance was listed on the official stat sheet as a 'very generous' 642. Getting support is something Cinella is working on and hoping to improve.
"We draw pretty well when we are part of the men's doubleheaders," he said. "But for single games like this we are trying to do better and get increased attendance."
FDU has two NEC games prior to the new year. They are this weekend at St.Francis(PA) Saturday and at Robert Morris on Monday. St.Peter's faces Akron on the road Saturday and does not begin their MAAC schedule until after new years.