Women’s Basketball Snaps Two Game Skid

After falling to Marist two days earlier, the women’s basketball team picked up their first MAAC victory on Sunday, Dec. 7 when they outlasted the Iona Gaels for a 75-74 victory in double overtime.

The win ended a two game losing streak for the Hawks, and improved their record to 4-3 overall with a 1-1 mark in conference play.

“I’m so excited and proud of our kids for being able to pull that one out,” said head coach Jenny Palmateer. “It was a game where points didn’t come easy for us. I felt that we got the looks we wanted, but there was a lid on the rim for a while, really on both ends.”

Sophomore forwards Jenny Horvatinovic and Christina Mitchell led the way for MU with 18 and 15 points respectively, and Mitchell also grabbed 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. Horvatinovic nearly recorded a double-double of her own, but fell one rebound short with nine. Sophomore guard Helena Kurt was the only other Hawk to score in double figures with 11 points, and she also led the team with five assists.

Iona’s Aaliyah Robinson led all scorers with 25 points, and was also one of three Gael players to record double-doubles. The other two were Joy Adams, who had 15 points and an impressive 25 rebounds, and Damika Martinez who chipped in with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Despite her double-double, Martinez was mostly held in check by the Hawks, as her 11 points were less than half of her MAAC leading 25.7 points per game average. “I’m just really proud of the way our girls were able to stick with it, and get down on the defensive end,” explained Palmateer. “To hold Martinez like we did was a huge key for us.”

MU looked sharp through the first five plus minutes of play, and a three from Horvatinovic helped the Hawks jump out to an early 7-3 advantage with 14:10 remaining in the half. After a three-point play from Joy changed the lead to one, MU responded with a 10-3 run to increase its lead to nine with just over eight minutes left to go in the first. The spurt was highlighted by seven straight points from Kurt.

The nine point lead would be the largest advantage MU held during the contest, as the Gaels fought back to tie the game at 18 with under five minutes left to play in the half. After a free throw from MU’s Jasmine Walker gave the Hawks a one point lead at the one minute mark, a last second Iona layup reversed the score and gave the Gaels a 25-24 lead heading into halftime.

Iona kept the momentum as the second half began, and extended their lead to 42-34 just over six minutes into the second period. MU then clamped down on the defensive end, and scored 13 straight points to take a 47-42 lead with ten minutes remaining in regulation.

Keeping with the theme of the game, Iona continued to battle back, but could not reclaim the lead despite cutting their deficit to one several times. Unfortunately, for the Hawks, the Gaels did manage to tie the game when Robinson nailed a shot from beyond the arc with 17 seconds left to play. A last second attempt from Kurt to one the game for MU did not fall, and the game headed into overtime tied at 58.

Another three from Horvatinovic gave the blue and white a four point advantage with a minute and a half to go in the first overtime period, and it appeared the Hawks would come away with the victory. However, yet another last second make from Iona tied the game at 67, and both teams headed into a second overtime.

In similar fashion to the first overtime period, the Hawks jumped ahead early. Junior Jamiyah Bethune’s lay-up gave MU a two point lead just seconds into the period, and a Kurt free throw helped extend the lead to five with only one minute left on the clock.

Iona would not go down easily, however, and the Gaels scored five straight points to tie the game at 74 with 12 seconds remaining.

It appeared the game would head into its third overtime, but MU’s Walker was fouled on her last second drive to the basket and had two chances to end the game from the free throw stripe. Despite missing the first attempt, Walker stayed cool under pressure and drilled the second to give the Hawks the 75-74 win.

After playing two straight conference games, MU now goes back to non-conference play for four straight contests. The Hawks first hit the road on Wednesday, Dec. 10 to take on Xavier. Tip-off is scheduled for 11:30 am.

PHOTO COURTESY of Taylor Jackson