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Women’s basketball fall 2015 recap

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The team is 3-5 at home, and 0-3 on the road.

The team is 3-5 at home, and 0-3 on the road.

The team is 3-5 at home, and 0-3 on the road.

By: Amanda Gonzalez

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The St. Edward’s University women’s basketball team finished the 2015 part of their season away on New Year’s Eve with a 58-49 loss against the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

Looking back, the start of the 2015-2016 season brought new challenges and triumphs for the St. Edward’s University women’s basketball team. Here’s a recap of the fall start with a focus on the December finish and improvements for the spring semester.

Although currently 3-8 in the record books, SEU Head Coach J.J. Riehl had said earlier in December that the team was now getting to the point where they are playing “selfless basketball” and maintaining a “strong mentality” – which is a good sign early into Heartland Conference (HC) play where the team is currently 1-2.

Prior to the New Year’s Eve matchup, the four other December games took place at home – including the first two HC games of the season. The last two non-conference games were losses, but the first conference game was a 63-55 win against Newman University. The second HC game was against Oklahoma Christian University, which resulted in a 83-76 loss.

Freshman guard Bailey Hill has been an offensive standout in her first season, as sophomore guard Haley Joly has shown versatility in playing multiple positions. Lone senior Ateh Ade encapsulates the spirit of the team, Riehl says.

Several vocal leaders graduated last season, so this season’s toughest transition has involved several veteran players and promising underclassmen growing as leaders and becoming more comfortable and cohesive on the court.

Riehl says junior forward Khiani Clark is a vocal leader on the team, while newcomer junior pointguard Shakera Barnes leads by example.

Riehl says one of the biggest struggles of this season has been dealing with ankle injuries. In early December, nine of the 10 women on the roster were healthy, which did not allow the team to practice 5-on-5 unless one of the coaches practiced with the team.

As a result of these injuries and leadership transitioning, the team had not been able to strongly capitalize on the fine details.

“People always think about the game of basketball, or any sport really, in big terms and the big picture, when really the difference between winning and losing, and being average or being good or great is really, really small,” Riehl says. “It’s the little things” that the team needs to continue to improve on in order to be more consistent.

To recap the rest fall semester, the women’s basketball team’s first two wins came at home on Nov. 13 and Nov. 21. Three of their other four fall season losses were by 10 points or less.

Additionally, the team has competed and lost in two exhibition matches against Division I University of Texas San Antonio on Nov. 8 to start their season and Texas State University on Nov. 15. Even without three top Hilltoppers playing due to injury, the exhibition game against Texas State ended in closer 52-44 score.

Riehl says that exhibition games help in the bigger picture, because these unrecorded games are usually played against “teams that maybe are a little bit bigger, a little bit faster, a little bit stronger, and challenges us in different ways, and gives us the experience against different things that maybe we’re going to face down the road.”

Over the one-week break, Riehl said that besides spending time with family and doing some Christmas shopping, she would continue watching film in order to mentally prepare for upcoming conference games. “The film never stops,” Riehl said.

The first HC game of 2016 will take place on Jan. 2, 2016 at Rogers State University.

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Women’s basketball fall 2015 recap