By Pete Chiodo
February 19, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
The Allegheny women’s basketball team would appear to have the perfect draw for the quarterfinal round of the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament.
The Gators’ opponent is Ohio Wesleyan. The two teams will square off today at 6:30 p.m. at the David V. Wise Center.
Allegheny has beaten the Bishops both times they’ve gone head-to-head this season, and pretty handily too.
However, this in the NCAC tournament. And no team can afford to take the other for granted.
“Both games (with OWU) were very competitive, but we pulled away in the last couple minutes,” said the Gators’ fifth-year head coach Kate Costanzo. “It’s definitely difficult to beat a team three times in one season. We know each other pretty well by this point. And it’s going to be about who executes better and who takes better care of the ball.”
The Gators (14-11) and the Bishops (8-17) first went head-to-head way back on Dec. 1 in a clash at the Wise Center. The Gators won big, 66-48. Gators senior forward Daryl Ford had 17 points. Ann Ryan, another senior forward, had 14 points.
The two teams met again on Jan. 12 in Delaware, Ohio, where the Gators claimed a 65-53 victory over the Bishops. Ford again led the way offensively with 18 points. Freshman Emma Pellicano contributed a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double.
Rebounds played a big role in both games. In the first meeting, Allegheny out-rebounded OWU 38-28. And in the rematch, the Gators then completely dominated the glass, grabbing 37 caroms to Wesleyan’s 18.
“(Rebounding) is definitely something we need to focus on (tonight),” said Costanzo. “That’s definitely going to be one of the keys of the game.”
Of course, Allegheny will also need to score some points. And once again the Lady Gators will look to Ford to lead that effort.
She’s the team’s top scorer this year with 12.8 points per game and leads the squad in rebounds with 7.3 per contest.
“We need to get Daryl into the offense early,” said Costanzo. “I think we pick up some steam when she gets going early.”
After Ford, Pellicano is the second-leading scorer, averaging 10.0 points a game. She’s followed by freshman guard Rachel Vigliotti (6.6 points a game), Ryan (6.0), sophomore guard/forward Kendall Hoffman (5.7) and freshman guard Jessica Mrdjenovich (5.3) in the top six.
“We’re going to have to get ready to play against the zone,” said Costanzo. “(OWU) been going to the zone lately. So we have to get our shooters ready and get them confident. And we’re going to have to play good defense, force some turnovers and get some easy points in transition.”
The defense will focus a lot of its attention on the Bishops’ 5-foot-6 sophomore guard Sarah McQuade. She leads the team in scoring (10.1 ppg.), steals (38) and assists (81). Plus she’s a crack free throw shooter, with team highs in attempts (104) and makes (83) for a success rate of 79.8 percent.
McQuade will, however, cough the ball up when pressured. She has 107 turnovers on the year
“(McQuade) is definitely their best all-around player,” Costanzo said. “We’ll need to contain her and keep her away from the rim. She does a good job of transitioning the ball. And she is a good defender.”
Other top threats for the Bishops is 5-9 freshman wing Emily Julius, who is second on the team in scoring (8.5 ppg.). Tamra Londot, a 5-9 junior post player, averages 7.6 points a game and is also one of the team’s top rebounders. Of her 145 total grabs, 64 of them are on offense. And Kristin Henning, a 6-foot sophomore forward, will also play a big role for the Bishops, scoring 7.2 points per night and 6.0 rebounds per game.
McQuade and Julius have both averaged double digit points against the Gators this season. Julius scored 13 in the first game and 14 in the second. McQuade had 10 in the December meeting and a dozen a month later.