The UTM women’s tri-campus team kicked off the second semester of competitive basketball at the RAWC against the undefeated St. George team. After losing to St. George Black earlier in the season, the Eagles were looking for payback.
Last semester, the Eagles played well on offence, with point guard Essence Penaloza controlling the pace of most of their games. With their good ball movement, the Eagles were able to win their home games last season.
This game didn’t start off in the same vein; St. George took an early 8–2 lead. The Eagles were allowing their opponents to get easy shots, which led Coach Jack Krist to call a quick timeout to get the girls focussed. The timeout sparked the defence into action, and with good hands in the passing lane, the Eagles got some fast break layups on the other side and drew level at 12–12.
This was as good as it got for the Eagles on this night, because then St. George turned up the defence. They didn’t allow any penetration to the rim, which forced UTM to take deep shots that weren’t falling.
Krist called another timeout with six minutes left in the first half to rally his team. Then, with four minutes left, he went to his bench, taking off four players at once and replacing them with four from the bench. But this didn’t hinder St. George, who kept playing their tough defence and denying shots at the rim.
On the other end, St. George moved the ball effectively and got good looks at a few three-pointers, which they knocked down.
The Eagles took a huge blow towards the end of the first half when starting forward Na’vi Sohal went down with what seemed like a serious injury. She was able to limp off the court, but she did not return to the game. The good defence and efficient offence from St. George led them into the break with a lead of 35–18.
The second half was no different. UTM picked up their defensive effort but still couldn’t get anything going on offence. Steffany Bakelaar tried to rally the team by hitting a couple of layups with seven minutes left in the game and managed to cut the lead to 17 points. Peneloza was visibly frustrated with her shooting, as she couldn’t get most of her shots to fall, and it was the same for most of her teammates. Krist went to his bench again to switch things up, but in the end St. George’s defence effort was too much for the Eagles. The game ended at 59–34 in St. George’s favour.
“We are a bit rusty and we haven’t had a chance to practise all week; we added two new players also and they haven’t had enough time to gel,” said Krist after the game. “They’re a very good shooting team; they hit a lot of shots on us. One of my starters got banged up and a lot of things weren’t going our way.”
“I still think we can beat this team,” he added. “We have the talent to do so.”