Women’s basketball crushes Tulsa 68-52 in season opener
Team's five freshmen were on the court during the last four minutes
“I know I’m having a good game when my first 3-point attempt makes it in easy,” Cecily Carl, a senior forward for AU women’s basketball, said during a preseason interview.
She must have known that the Eagles’ (1-0) season opener against the University of Tulsa would go well when her first 3-point attempt – which came just over a minute into the game – went in, well, easy.
Her basket gave AU a 7-0 lead in under two minutes, thanks to four baskets – one layup and two completed free throws – by junior guard Katie Marenyi.
“This year we have a lot more scoring options,” Carl said following the game. “That’s not to say that our seniors last year didn’t score. It’s a different type of mentaily.”
The Eagles were up by 15 at the end of the first quarter alone, and finished the game with a 16-point lead.
But the matchup against Tulsa was not a cruise for AU. The Eagles lost their rebound footing in the second quarter and didn’t gain it back until later in the game. While Carl was the team’s rebounding leader last season, she only had two under her belt in Friday’s game. Sophomore guard Indeya Sanders had four, the most on the team. AU and Tulsa each totaled 37 rebounds by the game’s conclusion.
“Second and third [quarters] were a little rough for us,” head coach Megan Gebbia said. “If we could get through [each] quarter without really giving up the lead, then I was OK.”
In the third, Tulsa crept up behind the Eagles, cutting the lead to seven with two 3-point shots and a handful of complete free throws. A lineup featuring Sanders, freshman guard Emily Fisher, senior guard Elina Koskimies, senior forward Kaitlyn Lewis and freshman forward Taylor Brown reversed the pattern with minutes left in the quarter, allowing AU enter the fourth and final quarter 46-33.
Gebbia chose to put all five freshmen into the game – which got the whole roster playing in the season opener – so they could watch themselves on film and see how to improve, Gebbia said.
“My assistant Emily Stallings said, ‘This might be the only time all year you can get them all in together so get them in now!’” Gebbia said.
Forward Jade Edwards was the first freshman to take the court on the roster. By halftime, she played seven minutes, as did Brown. Maddie Doring, another freshman forward, joined the Eagles two minutes before the end of the first half, and played five minutes overall. Freshman guard Laura Graytok entered the game to join her four rookie equals with four minutes remaining.
Fisher, the fourth freshman guard (but sole Australian), played the most of all the freshmen. After a foul 2.9 seconds before the buzzer rang to signal the end of the first half, she became flustered, giving Tulsa possession going into the second half.
“I learned that Emily Fisher is not afraid,” Gebbia said. “She has some little tweaks to make as far as pressure. She’s good against pressure, but she also forces things against pressure.”
Fisher, like Carl, played 22 minutes. Her own (and possibly the game’s) highlight was her 3-point basket, which came 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been working on [my 3] this whole preseason,” Fisher said after the game. “To actually get one, and see my team react, was just an amazing feeling. I was proud of myself because I knew the work that I put in to get that, so it was the best moment.”
The Eagles will be back in Bender Wednesday at 7 p.m. for their second game of the season against George Mason.