Lady Griffins dominate Ohio Valley

The Lady Griffins took full advantage of a very short Ohio Valley (OVU) bench en route to capturing their seventh consecutive victory, winning 77-46 on Feb. 13 at the McKenna Center.

By Sean Maiolo

Business/Ad Manager

The Lady Griffins took full advantage of a very short Ohio Valley (OVU) bench en route to capturing their seventh consecutive victory, winning 77-46 on Feb. 13 at the McKenna Center.

A pair of big runs to start each half overwhelmed their opponents, who at one point in the second half trailed by 41 points. OVU was also the victim of a very short bench, as they only had two extra bodies available on the sidelines.

With the win the Lady Griffins (12-4 WVIAC, 16-6 overall) pulled to within a half game of first place in the conference and also boast the conferenceís top overall record.

“We knew what we had to do,” said junior guard/forward Jordan Burkes. “We knew our game plan. We just had to go outplay [them].”

“We moved the ball really well on offense and we were making the extra pass to hit the open person,” said senior forward Katie Lintner, who led the way with 23 points and eight rebounds in only 20 minutes of action.

Senior guard Jenna Petrini also scored in double figures with 15 points, while junior forward, Jill Emberg cleaned the glass with ten boards, five on offense. In all, the ladies had ten different scorers and 14 players saw at least four minutes of game action.

“I just think that we got better as a team and I think we got better as individuals,” said head coach Ferne Labati, who struggled to find any holes in the ladies one-sided victory. “It’s tremendous what can happen when no one really cares who gets the credit.”

The team’s play also impressed another renowned head coach, Pitt women’s boss Agnus Berenato, who was in attendance to watch her daughter play.

“I was really impressed. I haven’t seen Seton Hill since we played them on Nov. 14,” she said. “I just feel like they’re so much improved since that first day. I thought there was a lot of energy on the court no matter who went in.”

The women began the contest on a 13-0 run and immediately sent a message both offensively and defensively that they were not going to be beaten.

“We always say the first five minutes of the first half and the second half are the most important and we went on runs in both and it helped us get the momentum in our favor for the rest of the half,” Lintner said.

“We wanted to press to start out the game and try to build up a big lead,” added assistant coach Tony Grenek. He and coach Labati agreed a fast paced start would best utilized their opponents’ few subs.

“If you only have seven or eight kids and you’re being pressed, it’s tough,” he continued. “I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and it’s a lot nicer to have depth when you’re playing basketball.”

“We knew that they had a losing streak,” Labati added, “and when you play teams like that, they’re hungry for a victory and you can’t even let them begin to think that they’re going to be in the ballgame with you.”

Getting out to such huge leads, the ladies also started on a 12-0 run to start the second half before letting the bench take over, allowed the coaching staff to get extended looks at some of the players that usually spend games on the bench.

“You have a great opportunity to take a look at some other players that maybe donít play as much for you,” said Grenek. “It helps us work on some things that we need to improve upon like man to man defense and defending baseline out of bounds situations.”

Their current winning streak follows a stretch in which the women dropped five of six. Fixing some midseason issues and rediscovering their confidence has keyed the ladies turnaround.

“We had a few problems here and there,” said Burkes, who is second on the team in scoring. “We just knew we had to fix those problems, communicate more, play as a team more and it worked out.

“I think our confidence is higher and we’re also trusting each other a lot more and whenever we trust each other we play a lot better.”

Labati believes this is a crucial time for her team and is pleased with the timeliness of their winning streak.

“We’re peaking at the right time,” she said before reiterating her motto. “We never look at anything else other than one game at a time.”

Burkes earns WVIAC Player of the Week honors.

Jordan Burkes enjoyed a fantastic week on the hardwood from February 1-7 including her first ever triple-double. The conference rewarded the junior with her another career first; WVIAC Player of the Week.

“It’s exciting,” she said of the award. “It’s always good to win it, but I canít get too big about it. I knew that I had to step up and play big especially in this big stretch we [had].”
The award is not unusual to the Lady Griffins, as Katie Lintner also was presented the honor in January as well as twice her junior season.

“They’re kind of like the scoring leaders and that’s really helped us,” said coach Labati. “You have to have two or three scorers out there at a time, and when Jordan and Katie are playing well that takes a lot of the pressure off the other kids on the team.”
Burkes averaged 22.7 points per game in the three games during that week, with her triple-double coming in a 77-73 win over West Virginia State on Feb. 7.