Meadville Tribune

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January 10, 2014

Rockets too much for Lady Bulldogs

MEADVILLE — The good news for Meadville was that sophomore Kiashiah Newsome couldn’t be stopped offensively during the first half of the Lady Bulldogs’ Region 5 clash with visiting Slippery Rock on Friday night.

The bad news was she was the only Lady Bulldog scoring.

Slippery Rock used its own hot shooting early and a strong second half adjustment to leave Meadville’s House of Thrills with a 54-35 win, a result that was much closer in the early going than the final score would do justice.

The Rockets jumped out to a 13-6 lead before Newsome knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Slippery Rock lead to four points. Meadville pulled within four points early in the second quarter as Newsome continued to create open looks for herself and knock down the shots.

As both teams continued to trade baskets during the second quarter, it was a 10-4 run to end the first half for Slippery Rock that gave the Rockets a 33-24 lead at halftime.

By the break, Newsome had already scored 15 of her team’s points. Unfortunately for Meadville (2-8, 1-2 Region 5), the sophomore was the only one scoring with consistency.

“The thing that hurt us is that we were lacking other scorers,” Meadville head coach Casey O’Shea said. “We need other people to step up and put the ball in the hoop. We had some shots, but we just didn’t put in the layups.”

For Slippery Rock (6-2, 2-1 Region 5) head coach John Tabisz, the plan at halftime was simple: Find a way to slow down Newsome.

“We just wanted to make sure that whoever was guarding her did not help elsewhere,” Tabisz said. “We tried to make her go left and feel uncomfortable with that shot, and it seemed to work. She gets her shot off quick and she can score, so we forced her to move left and it helped.”

The strategy paid off for Slippery Rock, as Newsome was held to six points the rest of the way as the Lady Bulldogs scored just 11 points in the second half.

Not helping matters was Meadville’s inability to pull down defensive rebounds throughout the night.

Midway though the third quarter, the Rockets’ Riley McGonigle missed a jumper, which was gobbled up by teammate Marissa Siebka. As Siebka’s shot missed the mark, another Slippery Rock offensive rebound was collected. By the time the possession finished, the Rockets had five offensive rebounds during one trip down the floor, which naturally ended with a made basket.

According to O’Shea, that simply can’t happen.

“I told the girls that a team might miss the first or second shot, but they will eventually make the third or fourth shot,” O’Shea said. “When you aren’t able to control a rebound, that will kill you. We have to work on boxing out and rebounding more.”

Slippery Rock’s Nicole Papley, the team’s leading scorer entering the game, struggled early on before finishing with 17 points. The difference between Meadville and Slippery Rock was the Rockets had a slew of other players step up and find the net while Papley was finding her shot.

“Papley had an off night,” Tabisz said. “Other kids stepped up, and we got enough separation that I could use my bench. We had a little more balance than (Meadville) did, and that was the difference. We had more kids that could score.”

The Rockets extended their nine-point halftime lead to a 44-28 advantage thanks to an 11-4 run to start the second half.

Newsome, who finished with 21 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs, was unable to find as many open looks during the second half, allowing the Rockets to continue to grow their lead down the stretch.

“If you do the math, we had 35 points total, and Kiashiah had 21 of them,” O’Shea said. “That’s 14 points for the rest of the team.”

Cadi McCoy and Tomera Schweter both finished with six points for Meadville, while Carley Glatch added two points to round out the scoring.

Slippery Rock was led by Papley and Siebka, both finishing with 17 points.

Meadville came into the contest following a tough four-point loss to rival Conneaut on Wednesday, one of the premier teams in Region 3. While O’Shea likely wanted that intensity to carry over from the Conneaut game, the Lady Bulldogs simply couldn’t generate the offense needed to keep pace with Slippery Rock.

But that doesn’t mean O’Shea’s young group isn’t headed in the right direction.

“I don’t think anything is necessarily a step backward,” O’Shea said. “Every game is a learning experience. I think we played really great against Conneaut, and I don’t think we were quite as good (Friday). I still think we did some things (Friday) that were positive, but there is still room for improvement.”

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