BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – They knew the run was going to come. They always do.
But that experience-based knowledge allowed for some mental preparation. And it was preparation that was key to the response.
On Wednesday evening at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium, it was the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team’s response to an inevitable run that proved critical to its 79-62 win over visiting Widener. After the Flying Dutchmen had constructed an 18-point second-quarter bulge, The Pride switched the momentum in the second half and pulled to within six points of the lead.
But Lebanon Valley answered with some stingy defense, timely offense and by generally remaining calm – or in other words, with a run of its own.
The result was significant in that the contest served as the MAC Commonwealth opener for both sides. LVC is now 3-3 overall, while Widener slipped to 2-3 on the year.
The game also served as the opener of a women’s-men’s basketball doubleheader.
“You know the run’s going to come,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Amy Sokaitis. “You’ve got to expect it. You’ve got to handle it. We knew that they’re a pressing team. But then I thought we got comfortable again.
“It’s our first conference game. We’re home,” added Sokaitis. “If you win your games at home and steal a few on the road, you put yourself in good position come February.”
The Flying Dutchmen felt things slipping away a bit when The Pride’s Allison Gallagher canned two foul shots with 7:53 remaining to make it a 55-49 game. But Lebanon Valley’s response was a 20-5 run over the next six minutes, one that gave LVC its largest margin of the night, 75-54.
Senior forward Lexie Lantz tallied eight points during the burst and junior point Becky Evans notched six points, while teammates Taylor Troutman, Hilary Yoh and Jennifer Eck all contributed a bucket.
“Where have we been? Where are we going?,” said Sokaits. “We’re young. We’re going to be up and down. We need to expand on the things we do well. Our offense needs to find a rhythm. I’d like to see us be consistent and continue to execute. We’re going to grow. I’d like to think we’re going in the right direction.”
The Flying Dutchmen never trailed and led by as much as 27-9, on a lay-in from Lantz, with 48 seconds left in the opening stanza. Earlier in the period, Lebanon Valley had registered seven straight points – five from freshman Caroline Scarff and a lay-up by Evans – to assume an 18-5 lead.
“We played interestingly,” said Sokaitis. “We started out really, really well. We started out hot. We scored on our first few possessions.
“In the third quarter, we – and I don’t know why – came out a little flat,” Sokaitis added. “We got rattled. But Evans got to the rim when we needed her to, and kept them (The Pride) honest. It’s all a process.”
Lantz paced Lebanon Valley College’s balanced attack with 20 points and a dozen boards, and Evans contributed 19 points and eight assists. Yoh and freshman Morgan Bamberger tallied ten LVC points apiece.
Lebanon Valley out rebounded Widener 41-31. The Flying Dutchmen were 16-for-19 at the foul line and limited The Pride to 37 percent shooting from the field.
“We did a good job defensively,” said Sokaitis. “We had a little letdown in the third quarter, but it was just as much the offense. I thought foul trouble hurt us. We spend half of our practice on defense, and I think that’s going to win games for us.
“We knew they (The Pride) were going to press,” continued Sokaitis. “We also knew they were going to score some in transition. It was important for us to get back (on defense).”
The Flying Dutchmen led 41-25 at intermission, and by 18 points when Evans converted a couple of charity tosses 49 seconds into the third quarter. But Widener tallied 19 of the next 28 points to pull within 52-44 of the lead.
“I think the middle of the pack is a good place,” said Sokaitis of prospects for the season. “That’s a junkyard. It just comes down to maturity.”
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2016-17 Lebanon Valley College Women’s Basketball Schedule
|11/15/2016||Elizabethtown College||Elizabethtown, Pa.||L 51-63
|Rinso Marquette Tournament|
|11/18/2016||Penn State Altoona||Annville, Pa.||W 81-44
|11/19/2016||SUNY Geneseo||Annville, Pa.||L 40-52
|11/26/2016||Misericordia University||Annville, Pa.||W 74-63
|11/27/2016||York College of Pennsylvania||York, Pa.||L 53-63
|11/30/2016||*||Widener University||Annville, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|12/3/2016||*||Alvernia University||Reading, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|12/7/2016||*||Stevenson University||Annville, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|12/10/2016||*||Hood College||Frederick, Md.||1 p.m.|
|12/19/2016||Marywood University||Scranton, Pa.||5 p.m.|
|12/20/2016||University of Scranton||Annville, Pa.||5 p.m.|
|12/30/2016||Delaware Valley University||Bethlehem, Pa.||12 p.m.|
|1/4/2017||*||Lycoming College||Williamsport, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|1/7/2017||*||Albright College||Annville, Pa.||3 p.m.|
|1/11/2017||*||Arcadia University||Glenside, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|1/18/2017||*||Messiah College||Annville, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|1/21/2017||Alumni Game||Annville, Pa.||11 a.m.|
|1/21/2017||*||Alvernia University||Annville, Pa.||2 p.m.|
|1/25/2017||*||Stevenson University||Owings Mills, Md.||6 p.m.|
|1/28/2017||*||Hood College||Annville, Pa.||4 p.m.|
|2/1/2017||*||Widener University||Chester, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|2/4/2017||*||Albright College||Reading, Pa.||2 p.m.|
|The Pink Game|
|2/8/2017||*||Arcadia University||Annville, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|2/11/2017||*||Messiah College||Grantham, Pa.||3 p.m.|
|2/14/2017||*||Lycoming College||Annville, Pa.||6 p.m.|