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January 11, 2014

College Basketball: Lady Gators suffer setback in loss to OWU

MEADVILLE — With four of its next five games coming against the top four teams in the North Coast Athletic Conference, the Allegheny women’s basketball team needed a momentum-building win over Ohio Wesleyan Saturday.

What it got was a crushing blow to its postseason chances.

The Lady Bishops dominated in the paint and beat the Lady Gators at their own game to capture an 82-62 win at the David V. Wise Center. The loss moved Ohio Wesleyan (8-6, 3-2 NCAC) ahead of Allegheny (9-6, 3-3) in the standings and makes the Gators next stretch of games infinitely more important.

“It is a tough stretch,” said Allegheny head coach Kate Costanzo. “Luckily, teams 2-through-9 are not going to run away from each other.”

In some cases, though, running away is the only option.

OWU played decent enough to win, but Allegheny really helped out in the second half. The Gators were outrebounded 32-16, gave up 30 points in the paint and shot just 28.1 percent. After playing to a 34-34 tie at the half, the errors in the second stanza were too much to overcome.

“I thought we played a great 23 minutes,” said Costanzo. “But (Ohio Wesleyan) played an entire game. They outplayed us for 40 minutes of basketball. And what’s really disappointing is they beat us at our own game.”

Another problem was the lack of scoring.

Rachel Vigliotti and Emma Pellicano were outstanding. Vigliotti was the main reason the score was tied at the break thanks to 13 first-half points. Pelicano made her mark in the second stanza with 16 markers. No other Gator scored more than four points. OWU, on the other hand, had four players in double digits while their leading scorer was held to zero until late in the game.

“We only had the two,” said Costanzo. “You are not going to win a lot of games in this conference with just two scorers.”

Yet they had their chances.

Despite everything that went against it, Allegheny trailed just 70-62 with two minutes left. The Gators started to foul to stop the clock, but even that did not go the team’s way. OWU made 8-of-11 over the next minute to extend the lead to 78-62. At that point AC conceded and called off the dogs.

“We need to be tougher in situations where our shots are not falling,” said Costanzo. “Right now we do not have that level of toughness where we can respond, get a defensive stop and focus on our next make. Instead we hang our heads a little too much on that.”

To add injury to insult, sophomore Iffie Uwazie went down late in the second half with an apparent knee injury. She was helped off the court and did not return. There was no update as to the severity of the injury after the game.

“We need her,” said Costanzo. “She brings a lot of energy and defense to the picture.”

Vigliotti led all scorers with 23 points to pace the Gators. Pellicano added 20 markers in the loss.

Tamra Londot tallied 15 to lead the Bishops. Kristin Henning contributed 14, while LaNiece McRae and Emily Julius had 12 each. OWU’s leading scorer, Sarah McQuade, made some late free throws to finish with just three points.

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