By Pete Chiodo
One could see it in the faces of the D’Youville Lady Spartans as they walked off the court of the David V. Wise Center for the halftime break:
They were gassed.
Twenty minutes of dealing with Allegheny’s frenetic full-court press and it’s shoot-first, ask-questions-later offense will have that effect on a team.
That’s the plan for the Gators, anyway. And the plan worked pretty darn well on Friday night as Allegheny knocked off D’Youville 93-59 during the Greg Richards Memorial Tip-off Classic.
“That’s our objective, to run the press in the first half and wear teams down,” said Gators head coach Kate Costanzo. “We can go pretty deep into our bench. We feel like we can keep it up the whole game if we have to.”
No need on Friday. After a little back-and-forth to start the game, Allegheny pulled away to a 45-23 lead at halftime, and kept adding to it during the second half.
The Gators’ defense forced 23 turnovers during the game, including 15 steals. Nine different players had picks for Allegheny. Kendall Hoffman and Iffie Uwazie led the way with three apiece.
D’Youville ended up shooting 33.9 percent from the floor in the game. That was after a 29-percent shooting rate in the first half, during which the Spartans were 9-for-31 from the floor, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range.
“We did a great job with the press in the first half and that’s really what got us going,” said Costanzo.
The Gators were able to convert that effort on defense into an abundance of opportunities on the other side of the court.
Allegheny had 84 shots in the game. Of those, 34 went in, giving the Gators a success rate of 40.5 percent for the night.
They were 13-for-29 from the arc (44.8 percent) and 12-for-17 at the foul line (70.6 percent).
Jessica Mrdjenovich led the Lady Gators with 19 points. She made 7-of-13 attempts in the game and was 5-for-8 from downtown.
Makenzie Zidek followed with 13 points. Kendall Hoffman and Emma Pellicano chipped in 11 each.
Mrdjenovich also led the team in assists with six. Marina Scarantino handed out five.
That performance left Costanzo scrounging for weak spots. She found a couple.
“The first half, we didn’t do a great job of rebounding,” she said. But we did a better job in the second half.”
The Gators were out-rebounded 25-22 in the first half. They then pulled down 33 in the second half to best the Spartans for the game 55-41.
Aubri Caslin led the Gators with nine boards. Pellicano had six.
“The biggest thing that we need to work on going forward was our half-court defense,” said Costanzo. “We were fouling too much. We need to do a better job of moving our feet and keeping the player in front of us.”
Leading D’Youville was forward Alexis Smith who had 18 points. Danette Laguerre followed with 15 points a a team-high eight rebounds. Shannon Dougherty had 10 points and paced the Spartans with three assists.
Allegheny (1-0) goes back to work today at 8 p.m. when it takes on Fredonia State, a 60-58 winner over Marietta last night.