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The St. Catharine College women have won just one basketball game in four outings this year. While that may be a concern for most teams, Patriot head coach Lena Bramblett only sees good things as a result of the early tough schedule.
“I can say that three of those four losses have made us a better team,” said Bramblett, whose squad split a pair of games in the last week. “We really played well in those losses.”
After losing road games at Lambuth and Union (teams ranked first and second in the nation in NAIA) during the season’s first week, the schedule hardly got easier Saturday as the Patriots hosted 3-0 Walsh University (Canton, Ohio) and then traveled to the University of Indianapolis on Sunday to play the Greyhounds, who were pre-season number 11 in NCAA D-II. The Patriots played well in both contests, topping Walsh 71-63 and falling 66-50 in Indianapolis.
Despite shooting 64 percent in the first half, Walsh found themselves down 33-30 to the Patriots in the Saturday afternoon game. The visitors were able to gain the lead early in the second period, but the Patriots rallied to take the lead for good with 11 minutes to play.
“They did shoot the ball well, but we had 12 more shots than they did in the first half,” said Bramblett, whose team shot 38 percent before intermission and 39 percent for the game. Walsh ended the game shooting 46 percent.
“They have a very good team,” added Bramblett, “but our quickness was able to make up for their good shooting. Plus, we played really good defense in the second half.”
Bramblett credited senior guard Brittany Darden especially for her sterling defensive play as she held Katie Berry, Walsh’s leading scorer who had 30 points the previous night against Berea, to 11 points on 4-13 from the field.
Darden also got it done offensively as she had 20 points to lead four Patriot players in double figures. Courtney Milam had 15 while Erin Rogers and Iona Caulder had 13 and 11 respectively. Danielle Brown and Jennica Garitty each had eight rebounds as the Patriots won the rebounding battle 40-36.
It was foul trouble that plagued the Patriots at Indianapolis as they fell 66-50 to the talented Greyhounds. The Patriots were whistled for 22 fouls while U-Indy, 1-0, committed just 12 fouls. “Games are called differently in the NCAA than the NAIA and we got in foul trouble early,” said Bramblett.
But, despite having three players foul out, the Patriots still trailed by only five points with 7:53 to play in the game. Then the taller Greyhounds took advantage of their inside game to extend the lead to the final 16-point margin.
“We played really well,” Bramblett stated. “I think they thought they would beat us by 30 or 40, but we hung in there.”
Darden had 13 points and Caulder 11 to lead the scoring. Brown had seven rebounds, but the Greyhounds outrebounded the Patriots 36-26.
The Patriots return home Friday to play Cumberland University (Tennessee) in a 6 p.m. tip-off. Tuesday they host Berea at 6 p.m., which precedes the men’s game against Spalding.