STEUBENVILLE - The Franciscan women's basketball team couldn't close a 17-point deficit in the second half, and fell 77-49 to conference opponent Mount Aloysius on Wednesday evening.
Less than 5 minutes into first quarter action, the Mounties already held a 16-5 lead, a testament to strong interior defense and offensive efficiency alike; the visiting conference opponents converted 8 out of their opening ten possessions into points. Against a zone Lady Barons defense, Mount Aloysius demonstrated a willingness to stretch the court, a technique which provided a series of wide open jumpers early.
Down 21-5 with 3:27 remaining in the first quarter, sophomore guard Kaitlyn Sonneberger landed a jumper in transition, assisted by freshman forward Laura Salzmann. A Sonneberger defensive rebound later, and sophomore guard Abby Baierl would infuse more life into the Lady Barons' offense, landing a jump shot of her own.
Two points from sophomore forward Cianna Vaughan, courtesy of a contested jumper near the lane, and a three from the hands of junior guard Reagan Stead launched from well beyond the arc, closed statistically the second-best quarter of play for the Lady Barons: Franciscan found itself down 23-14 after ten minutes.
Freshman guard Rebekah Nevarez would land her first two points of the contest with 3:45 gone in the second quarter, a beautiful jumper sourced from an offensive rebound, off of her own previously errant shot attempt. Down ten points after a Mount Aloysius turnover with 5:16 remaining before halftime, Nevarez would sink a three to bring the Lady Barons within 7 points, 28-21.
The Lady Barons would score only one more basket before halftime, a jumper from junior guard Gaby De Jesus which ended what was an eighteen-point scoring run for the Mounties. The teams left the court, with the Lady Barons down 40-23 at the half.
Play resumed, and the Lady Barons turned in statistically one of their finer quarters on the season, a sixteen-point effort which saw the women shoot 32.8% from the field, and 57.1% from the free throw line. Even so, the Mounties responded with seventeen points of their own, the product of 53.8% shooting from the field, and 66.7% from three.
Back-and-forth scoring characterized much of the fourth quarter: after the Mounties registered 5 straight points, the Lady Barons responded with baskets from Nevarez, Stead, and Baierl. However, Mount Aloysius closed the contest on their own terms, scoring nine straight points down the stretch, a collective scoring effort bolstered by missed Franciscan scoring opportunities, and dominant Mounties' rebounding.
Stead added a contested jumper and a subsequent free throw with 1:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, bringing Franciscan within 28 points. Stead couldn't connect on the Lady Barons' final shot of the game, and the final buzzer put a 77-49 loss into the books for the Franciscan less than a minute later. The loss drops the women to 1-20 on the season, while Mount Aloysius reaches 16-6 on the season.
The Lady Barons will play in their final home game of the season on Saturday, February 17 at 4 p.m., when they take on visiting conference opponent Medaille College.