BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – Todd Goclowski has high standards and goals for the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team. Whether those lofty expectations are realistic or not, his Flying Dutchmen certainly aren’t meeting them right now.
On Saturday afternoon at LVC Gymnasium, Goclowski was disappointed, frustrated and discouraged by Lebanon Valley’s latest performance, a 48-46 loss to Elizabethtown. The Blue Jays won it with four seconds remaining, on a 15-footer by Taylor Alwine.
Out of a timeout, the Flying Dutchmen were forced to go the length of the floor for a potential game-winning basket. But they did not get off an attempt in time.
The outcome dropped LVC into a four-way, first-place tie in the Commonwealth Conference, with E-town, Messiah and Stevenson. Lebanon Valley, the three-time defending Commonwealth champion, slipped to 15-4 overall and 9-3 in the circuit.
Elizabethtown moved to 15-3 on the year and 9-3 in the league.
“It was very undisciplined defense, which has become characteristic of this group,” said the normally upbeat and positive Goclowski, of Alwine’s game-winner. “We closed out and left our feet. We don’t ever teach that. But it’s becoming our standard. You can’t give any good player an opportunity to hit an open shot with the game on the line.
“We just have a long way to go,” continued Goclowski. “We’ll be on the road in the playoffs, that’s what this means. For a y0ung group, that’s bad news.”
After shooting a miserable 11 percent from the floor in the first half, the Flying Dutchmen rallied and led by a number of modest margins late, including 46-44 on a Lauren Ruhl jumper with 1:13 left. It was Ruhl who had given Lebanon Valley a 44-42 edge with a different jumper two minutes earlier.
Peyton Carper’s bucket with 4:11 showing on the game clock had put LVC ahead 42-40. But at no point in the second half were the Flying Dutchmen able to get up by more than one possession, despite making two-thirds of their shot attempts in the stanza.
“I’m not experiencing any difficulties,” said Goclowski. “The growth of the team is taking longer than it should.
“They (his players) set their own goals,” Goclowski continued, “and they’re accountable for it. I don’t know what they are after today. It’s disappointing to see a team not play 40 minutes on a consistent basis.”
Senior Caitlin Bach led the Flying Dutchmen with nine points, which included the 1,000th of her career. Lebanon Valley out rebounded the Blue Jays 47-28, but were guilty of 22 turnovers.
As a team, the Flying Dutchmen counted only five assists.
“With our group, it takes about a half to set the tone,” said Goclowski. “Playing a full game, that’s not the identity of this group. And that’s not the identity of a champion. Half of a game isn’t going to win anything.”
The Flying Dutchmen managed only Carper’s three-pointer in the first 6:35 of the game, and fell behind by six points. Bridget Rothert’s foul shots 4:19 before the break pulled Lebanon Valley to within 16-11, but they would prove to be the last points LVC would score in the first half.
“Elizabethtown played great defense in the first half,” said Goclowski. “Unfortunately, we continued to not come to play. Our group, being young, doesn’t realize the level of effort needed to compete in this league. I’m not sure we’re prepared to grow a lot in a short period of time. We can’t continue to give away halves of games.”
Lebanon Valley trailed by as many as nine points in the second half, before putting together a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 21-20 on a bucket from Bach, with 16:20 to go. Thirty-nine seconds later, Carper’s lay-in gave the Flying Dutchmen a three-point advantage, which would prove to be their biggest of the contest.