St. Edward’s women’s basketball defeats St. Mary’s 71-52

Amanda Gonzalez

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A critical 71-52 win took place on the St. Edward’s University home court on Saturday.

The St. Edward’s (3-4) women’s basketball team defeated rival St. Mary’s University (6-2) in a “Battle of the Saints” matchup on Saturday. St. Mary’s is ranked the Heartland Conference’s No. 2 team and this loss ended their five-game winning streak.

“For us to get a win like this against a team like St. Mary’s is huge, and we’re definitely going to enjoy it,” St. Edward’s Head Coach J.J. Riehl says.

Riehl shares some of the key factors that allowed the Hilltoppers to beat the Rattlers, whom she considers a “rhythm-oriented offensive team.”

St. Edward’s capitalized early in the first half. Junior pointguard Shakera Barnes made four baskets as the Hilltoppers tallied a 10-0 score less than halfway through the first quarter.

“I thought we did a really good job with our inside game,” establishing confidence that grew throughout the game, Riehl said. “We got into the paint … we were really disciplined, and we didn’t settle in the first half.”

With 6:29 left in the second quarter, St. Edward’s showed great defensive pressure that allowed them to hold a 25-5 lead over St. Mary’s.

“I thought the team defense was the standout. We kept [St. Mary’s] really off balance. We kept changing between zone and man, and I think that really threw them. It didn’t really allow them to establish a rhythm – and that was the key,” Riehl said.

By halftime St. Edward’s had outscored St. Mary’s 36-14.

Three of their four conference losses were because of blown leads, so the second half would be the true test for the Hilltoppers.

St. Mary’s used the second half to battle back with some shots of their own. However, each time St. Mary’s scored, St. Edward’s did the same soon after.

Riehl says that in the second half St. Mary’s “had to try and put a lot of pressure on us and amp up the intensity. When that happened, it gave us easy looks to get to the rim.”

“I thought [senior forward Ateh Ade], off the bench, had some blocks that were huge. She really occupied space well. We did a good job cleaning up the boards,” Riehl says emphasizing the entire team’s defensive efforts.

In the second half, St. Mary’s scored 38 points. St. Edward’s scored 35 points and was able to maintain the lead, pushing through for the final 71-52 score.

Moving forward, Riehl says she is going to tell the team to continue to focus on not letting their past define them, but rather to prepare them.

“It’s not about necessarily what has happened in the past; it’s about the future, and taking what has happened, and letting it make you tougher, stronger and better equipped to handle the next test or next challenge that’s thrown at you,” Riehl says.

On Thursday, the St. Edward’s women’s basketball team will play Oklahoma Panhandle State University who is 0-7 in conference standings.