ANNVILLE – There are a number of factors impeding the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team’s pursuit of consistency right now. But the most efficient, the quickest and most permanent way for the Flying Dutchmen to get where they want to go is through defense.
On Wednesday evening at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium, Lebanon Valley put forth yet another stifling defensive effort to suffocate Stevenson 42-37. The Flying Dutchmen held the Mustangs to 33 percent shooting from the field, a statistic that included two-for-17 shooting from three-point land.
Minus a pair of starters and six players overall, LVC moved to 6-4 on the season and 2-1 in the Commonwealth Division of the Middle Atlantic Conference. With the loss, Stevenson slipped to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the league.
“I thought we played really well defensively,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Diane Decker. “We did exactly what we wanted to do in space and we didn’t allow them (the Mustangs) to get to the basket. In our last game (a 61-50 loss at York) we didn’t play well defensively, so that was an emphasis tonight.
“There are definitely a lot of things that go into it (playing well defensively),” continued Decker. “There have been games this season when we haven’t communicated as well. We didn’t want them getting looks at the basket and we wanted to keep them in front of us. And when the ball went up, we had to rebound.”
The Flying Dutchmen were at their best defensively when the outcome was on the line.
Lebanon Valley held Stevenson without a point for an incredible 14-minute span that stretched from the middle portions of the third quarter into the latter moments of the final period. The resulting 11-0 run gave the Flying Dutchmen a 39-27 lead, with less than two minutes to play.
During that decisive span, Kennedy Kuffa scored seven points for the Flying Dutchmen and teammate Daelyn Stabler tallied four.
“It is early,” said Decker. “We haven’t had a full squad yet. We were down two starters, and it’s hard to get into any kind of rhythm. We’re asking the younger players to do a lot. I think we’re going to be a much better team when we have everyone back.
“We aren’t consistent right now,” Decker continued. “We played as good of a game as we have all year at Widener. But for as well as we played at Widener, we played that poorly at York. We aren’t at our best yet, just because we have people missing.”
Stabler notched a total of 15 points and Kuffa struck for 13 to pace the Lebanon Valley offense. Stabler also hauled down a dozen boards, as the Flying Dutchmen out rebounded the Mustangs 34-29.
“I told them that we’ve got to win our games at home, because road games are so tough,” said Decker of her troops. “We definitely emphasized that tonight. I’m just glad we were able to pull it out and get a win. I definitely feel good about that.”
LVC muddled through a sluggish start.
After Kuffa drained a three-pointer to open the scoring, the Flying Dutchmen went without a point over the next eight minutes of action, while Stevenson was opening a 15-3 lead. But thanks to balanced scoring that featured points by Kuffa, Dabler, Allison Bimmer, Cristina Fernandez and Sophia Bowers, Lebanon Valley College closed the first half on a 12-4 run and with a 22-21 lead.
“I felt like we were a little shaky at the beginning,” said Decker. “We were rushing things. We’re not able to run with them. Once we got it into a half court game, it went in our favor. They’re (the Mustangs) the kind of team that likes to get out in the open court and get to the basket.”