JERSEY CITY, NJ - She managed a polite smile and 'thank you' for well wishers commending a hard fought effort. Inside, there was a combination of frustration and disappointment for coach Stephanie DeWolfe.
Her St. Peter’s women had moments earlier dropped a 61-59 decision to Siena, Thursday at the Yanitelli Center. The final possession saw the Peahens with the ball. No shot was attempted as Jynae Judson turned it over with seconds remaining.
Another tough loss in a very difficult campaign.
The record is now 2-22 with a 2-11 slate in the MAAC. It has been a trying year on Kennedy Boulevard but what compounds it is manner of some of the games St. Peter’s lost: being in it with five minutes to go but unable to close it out.
“I wish I had an answer why we can’t get these close games," DeWolfe said. “If I knew we would get the problem solved. We work on things that need adjusting then something else comes up.”
A week ago against Niagara, the Peahens looked as a 15 point deficit with 4:58 to play. Gamely, they fought back using some sound pressure defense. In the final 18 seconds Niagara missed free throws but on two occasions in that span grabbed the offensive rebound. The result, a 54-52 setback.
Even the conference opener against powerful Marist on January 2nd, saw St. Peter’s with a lead in the final five minutes. Unable to hold on, they went down to another 54-52 defeat. Interestingly, the two victories, at Loyola (68-51) and Rider (65-54) were not settled the final minutes.
Through it all, St. Peter’s remains a hard working team with a good day to day mindset.
“No one wants to play St. Peter’s,” Niagara coach Kendra Faustin said last week after her club’s narrow escape. “They just play so hard.”
Daily practice is anything but drudgery to DeWolfe and her club. A standout point guard at St. Peter‘s in the late Nineties, DeWolfe is a competitor.She was a captain and key contributor to a St. Peter’s program capturing three straight MAAC regular season titles. She takes looks at the current situation as a daily process,with each day presenting an opportunity to get better.
“Everyday we work hard,” she said. “There are times we have a good practice but can’t transfer what we learned in practice onto the game."
The body language of the players in warmups, during the game and after is evidence of their desire and willingness to compete. Following the Niagara loss, a few of the players were in tears. They want to win.
“Day to day they get the message,” the coach said. “They come to practice with a great mental outlook and they have that desire to win. Again,” thinking about the game just completed, “we just have to learn to finish.“
Then, a few will show up in the win column. Regardless, the very rough season St. Peter’s is going through is not due to lack of effort. Not on the part of the coaching staff. Not on the part of the players.