FDU 63 Wagner 52: Numbers and Observations

Teaneck, NJ - FDU is on a roll. The Knights have now captured five of their last six games, the lone blemish a setback at Northeast Conference leader Sacred Heart. FDU defeated Wagner 63-52 at the Bogota Savings Bank Center on Friday. The Knights are now 8-14 (6-3) while Wagner dropped to 6-15 (3-6).

The first period ended with FDU showing a 13-11 lead. The Knights posted an 81 offensive efficiency but did have a 31% turnover rate. Wagner in 17 possessions had a 65 efficiency with an 18% turnover rate.

The Seahawks looked to break down the defense off the dribble. Taleah Washington utilized her quickness to gain access to the lane. In addition they had a low post threat in Kiera Edmonds. The game stayed within a two possession difference until Staci Williams drilled two straight threes allowing the Knights to open a nine point lead midway through the second period. The Knights would head into intermission with a 33-23 lead.

FDU won those all-important first four minutes following intermission, 9-6. That expanded the lead to 13.That third period saw both teams come out at an uptempo pace. "We emphasized at the half," FDU coach Stephanie Gaitley said, "if you have the shot take it." The key though, was a defensive change by FDU. The Knights went from man to man to a 2-3 zone. "They (Wagner) were getting inside by dribble penetration," Gaitley noted, "the zone was more effective."

Entering the final period the Knights held a 49-37 lead. FDU was struggling offensively, Wagner was starting to heat up. Abigeal Babore cooled the Seahawks off burying a big three with just over seven minutes to go to push the lead back to 10. Terrell Coburn’s Seahawks refused to go away. The moments were becoming anxious for the Knights until Lily Parke canned a three just inside a minute to play. That proved to be the dagger pushing the lead back to nine. FDU closed it out from the charity stripe.

Gaitley called it, "one of our more complete games. One where we made big shots." It was also a strong game on the defensive end that pleased Gaitley who preaches defense first. "The defense was very good," the coach said. "We really paid attention to details."

Spreading the wealth. Abaigeal Babore led all with 18 points. Lily Parke added 12 and Wilma Sorensen 11 for the Knights. "Abby (Babore) played very well and this might have been Wilma’s (Sorensen) best game. Staci (Williams with nine points) also contributed." Gaitley also commended the inside work of Teneisia Brown, eight points, a team-high seven rebounds and a noteworthy effort in the paint. What it all added up to-the Knights are now getting contributions from players that started the year in limited roles. Having a number of options only makes them more dangerous. At a most opportune time.

Defense and efficiency. In a 69 possession contest, FDU held a 97-81 advantage in offensive efficiency. In their last six games FDU opponents have been over 90 efficiency in only two games. Despite losing to FDU, Central Connecticut rang up a 98 efficiency. Sacred Heart had a 105 efficiency in their win over the Knights. Keeping opponents out of triple figures in offensive efficiency is a sign of good defense,which the Knights have shown as of late.

Wagner was led by Washington with 16 points while Edmonds was the other double figure scorer with 13. A 5’7" guard, Washington added six rebounds. Shamique Cummings added nine points while grabbing a team-high seven boards. Seahawks held a 26-22 advantage in points in the paint and forced FDU into 16 turnovers (23% TO rate). Charity stripe proved to be a difference as Wagner shot 11-20 (55%) while FDU was 19 of 24 for 79%.

Notes: Wagner shot 40% from the field. Seahawks did not connect on a three pointer, missing all nine attempts.

FDU checked in at 38%, hitting 7 of 21(33%) from long distance.

FDU hosts LIU on Thursday. The Knights defeated LIU in Brooklyn, 59-56 on February 1st.

Wagner visits St. Francis University, also on Thursday.

In attendance was Margaret ‘Maggie’ Ludwiczak. She was an FDU teammate, in the late 80s, of Coco Vanderslice Lefkowitz, Gaitley’s sister who was also on hand. Ludwiczak remembered around 1976 she responded to a notice for a girls basketball clinic in her native Rutherford, NJ. . "Myself and three other girls showed up," she recalled. The clinic was led by the late George Vuyosevich, a long time CYO coach at St. Mary’s in Rutherford. Beside CYO , George was involved in youth basketball, teaching, coaching and giving of his time for years. The gym at now St. Mary is named in his honor. Even with limited numbers, he kept that clinic going. "All four of us (at the clinic) went on to successful basketball careers," Ludwiczak noted. Prior to FDU, Ludwiczak starred at Rutherford High School and is a member of the athletic Hall of Fame. The memories of Rutherford and FDU are vivid and cherished. As is George Vuyosevich and the clinic that helped start it all.