Women’s basketball extends winless streak to six against Wake Forest
Still seeking their first win of the season, the AU women’s basketball team returned home to face Wake Forest University, a physical, athletic ACC team that ultimately defeated the Eagles 71-70 Sunday afternoon.
Both teams bounced back and forth early in the game, but the Demon Deacons (5-1, 0-0 ACC) began to pull away toward the end of the first half and into the third quarter with a strong shooting percentage inside and by converting points off turnovers. The Eagles (0-6, 0-0 PL) staged a large comeback in the fourth quarter, but they still fell one point short, recording their sixth consecutive loss.
Despite AU’s winless record, head coach Megan Gebbia said she felt proud of her team for certain elements of their game, highlighting the team’s consistent improvement throughout the season thus far.
“We believe in ourselves, and I think they started to believe in themselves,” Gebbia said. “We’ve been fighting back every game in the fourth quarter that we’ve been in, so it seem like nothing new. Once shots just started to fall and we kept up on the defensive end, it helped us a lot.”
The Eagles were led by senior forward Michelle Holmes who almost snared a double-double with 22 points and nine rebounds. Junior forward Lauren Crisler and sophomore guard Emily Kinneston also added 18 and 16 points respectively. Ten of Holmes’ points came in the fourth quarter rally where AU outscored Wake Forest 22-9 after entering the period down by 14, and Holmes said she noticed a difference in her team’s attitude and determination as the end of the game neared.
“It was a totally different atmosphere,” Holmes said. “There would be times where we would be down, like when we gave up a run around the four minute mark, but everyone was still going hard and we kept hitting shots to keep our momentum going. I think getting stops on defense was what kept our offense going at that moment.”
AU played an aggressive defensive, racking up fouls but still struggling to keep up with Wake Forest’s athleticism, according to Gebbia. The Demon Deacons shot 39 free throws and made 24 of them as three Eagles fouled out down the stretch. Wake Forest also scored 24 points off 15 AU turnovers, compared to the Eagles only converting ten points out of forcing 16 turnovers.
“I don’t think it hurt us on the defensive end, it hurt us with ball handling. We had to put a freshman at the point and she had three or four turnovers in the fourth quarter,” Gebbia said. “Maybe even in the last five minutes or so, that hurt just trying to get into our offense.”
Despite the loss, the Eagles recorded their highest point total yet this season, and Gebbia said she was pleased to see that development in her squad as the season progresses, while also noting the limitations of getting into foul trouble.
“I’ve been waiting for this. This was not a fluke. The three [players] that were in double digits were the three that should be in double digits based on last year and what they did and how they proved themselves,” Gebbia said. “I think we can get in the high 60s to 70s from game to game if we start to execute, but fouling has still really been our biggest problem. And if we can stop fouling we’ll be in more more [close] games and winning games.”
Holmes said the close game helped her identify places for improvement, even though she was the leading contributor.
“Just thinking back, because it was a one-point game, thinking back to one of the stops I could have got, or one of the rebounds I could have got, one of the rotations I could have done, or a couple shots I could have made,” Holmes said. “Yeah I’m happy, but I’m not really satisfied with what I’ve done, I know I could’ve done a little bit more.”