BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – The reason the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team has enjoyed so much success over the past few years is that it almost always attains its goals. And the reason that LVC almost always reaches its goals is because it keeps them simple.
Team goals over individual ones.
Game goals over seasonal ones.
Defensive goals over offensive ones.
On Tuesday night at the LVC Gymnasium, the Flying Dutchmen’s focus on the goals at hand produced a 62-38 victory over Elizabethtown. In many ways, Lebanon Valley enjoyed its best outing of a expectation-filled season because it turned in its best defensive effort to date.
The victory lifted the Flying Dutchmen to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Commonwealth Conference. For ninth-ranked Lebanon Valley, the two-time Commonwealth champion, the win was its 14th straight over Elizabethtown.
E-town is now 1-3 on the season and 0-1 in the league.
“Philosophically, offense and defense are not number one,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Todd Goclowski of the keys to his team’s success. “Relationships with others and becoming a team are. Becoming a basketball family is more important than on-court things. But when you’re there, then defense becomes very important.
“Talking is so important to playing good defense, which is such a difficult thing to do,” added Goclowski. “Communication is the key for a great defense. But that’s always a work in progress. They (the Blue Jays) had three players averaging over 15 points, coming in. We had our hands full.”
Lebanon Valley led from wire-to-wire. And it was their blanking of Elizabethtown during a nine-minute stretch late in the first half which proved decisive.
A bucket from senior Renee Fritz, 6:34 before intermission gave the Flying Dutchmen a 17-9 lead. All that was left for Lebanon Valley to do was methodically expand its advantage.
“This was more like LVC basketball,” said Goclowski, referring to an 81-72 triumph over FD-Florham on Saturday. “We played better defensively. We’re just a work in progress, like every team. But it’s tough to keep teams under 40 points.
“It was a combination of several weeks of work coming together,” Goclowski continued. “We take a lot of pride in our defense. That (Saturday) lit a fire under us.”
Lebanon Valley’s dynamic backcourt of sophomore Kiely Chaklos and senior Tierney Hiltz combined for 31 points, in 31 minutes of action apiece. LVC held the Blue Jays to 28 percent shooting from the floor and out rebounded them 46-35.
At the charity stripe, the Flying Dutchmen outscored E-town 21-7.
“Kiely is a wonderful person,” said Goclowski. “She is a pleasure to coach. Next to the word ‘coachable’ in the dictionary is a little picture of Kiely. She wants to learn and be better everyday. Coaches have special relationships with point guards. I’m very pleased with the way she steered the ship tonight.
“Both LVC and Elizabethtown played on Saturday and Sunday,” added Goclowski. “We wanted to get into our bench early and get into their bench early. I never think about not playing well. We want to be confident in our team. Tonight was an effort we can be pleased with.”
It took Elizabethtown five minutes of the second half to dent the Flying Dutchmen’s defense, and by that time LVC was sitting on a 41-18 cushion – thanks to a bucket from Lauren Ruhl. That lead maxed out at 24 points two minutes later, on a Ruhl three-ball.
“It’s so early,” said Goclowski. “But you want to have a good showing against a playoff-caliber team. It’s important to get a conference win.
“You want to get better,” continued Goclowski. “During the early season, you want to see growth. You hope pieces come together. You could see the trademark LVC attitude. Tonight was the first game that was apparent.
“I thought we put the work in tonight. Tonight was an important step.”