(Chicago, Ill.) The Saints used a 52 point second half to cut into their 24 point deficit on the road Wednesday night against the 13th ranked Olivet Nazarene Tigers.
A solid offensive first half where the Saints scored 43 points on 49% shooting from the field was countered by Olivet's quick paced offense where the Tigers emphasize the three-point shot. Olivet shot 14-32 from the three-point line in the first half, and had only 8 field goals made inside the three-point line. The Saints were outscored 67-43 in the first half.
"The girls knew we had to just continue to play our game," said Saint coach Aimee Niespodziany. "We scoring the ball well but turnovers weren't helping us out. We needed to come out strong in the second half if we wanted to get back in the game."
The Saints had 21 turnovers in the first half, and gave up 23 points off those turnovers.
In the second half, the Saints came out strong. Maggie Gondeck (Michigan City, Ind.) got a couple early buckets and the team began to feed off of her. The defense, in turn, was much improved and they were able to slow down the three-point shooting of Olivet.
The Saints worked their inside out game and were able to score at will inside the paint. Lindsey Steffen (Nappanee, Ind.) scored 8 of her 17 points in the second half while also recording 13 (6 offensive) of her game high 18 rebounds. Steffen fell just short of her first career triple-double recording 9 assists.
Maggie Gondeck (Michigan City, Ind.) recorded the first double-double of the season recording both career highs in points (20) and rebounds (16).
Senior Angela Byrd (Harvey, Ill.) brought great energy off the bench for the Saints scoring 14 second half points that helped cut the Tigers lead from 24 to 9 with just under 3 minutes to go in the game. The 18 points for Byrd is also a new career high for her.
Lauren Malinowski (Dearborn Heights, Mich.) was the final Saints player to score in double figures making 4-14 shots from the field for 13 points.
The Saints outscored the Tigers 52-38 in the second half while holding them to just 4-27 from three-point range (14.8%). The 48 points in the paint is also the most the Saints have recorded all season.
Although the Saints fell 105-95, coach Niespodziany found a lot of positives with the way her team fought through in the second half.
"I'm really proud of how the girls fought back in the game being down 24 at the half," stated coach Niespodziany. "The resiliency they showed to stick to the plan really helped us get back in the game. I was impressed with our points in the paint and rebounding numbers overall. This is something we can use to continue to work on to get better as the season progresses. Olivet is a top 15 program nationally, and I feel we proved we can hang with any team over the course of 40 minutes."
The Saints, 1-4 (0-2 CCAC), will continue Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) play on Saturday, November 17th against the Roosevelt University Lakers. Tip-off is set for 1:00 p.m. (EST).