Falcons set season bar high

Call them perfectionists, but after going 27-0 in the regular season last year, the SPU women’s basketball team isn’t satisfied with just any old win.

Even after defeating George Fox University 59-49 in their first exhibition game last Friday night, in which they never trailed, the Falcons still see plenty of room for improvement.

"I thought we did not play as well as we know we can," senior center Kelsey Hill said. "We have showed in practice how good we can be and did not do a great job of showing that. We had people step up and play well, which was great, but overall we still have a lot to work on."

After being tied 2-2 at the start of the game, the Falcons led the rest of the way, keeping a pretty comfortable lead throughout.

At the end of the first half, it looked as though the Falcons would go into halftime with a seven-point advantage, but at the last second, junior guard Daesha Henderson hit a three-pointer on the run, which bounced high off the rim until it dropped in, making the halftime score 28-18.

Despite the strong start, the second half was more evenly matched. Both teams scored 31 points, but the early Falcon lead proved to be the difference.

The Falcons held a 41-27 lead, but saw George Fox come within three points with only 5:02 left.

"I knew we would come together and stop them. I was just thinking that we have to be sharp in all our movements and take care of the ball," Hill said. "I knew we were going to be okay as long as we played smart."

SPU kept their composure as Hill started a six-point rally for the Falcons with a lay-in followed by a jumper by sophomore forward Caitlin Rohrbach. On the next possession, Henderson had a put-back to get the lead to nine points, making it 52-43 approaching the three-minute mark.

By then, the Falcons secured a large enough lead to coast to victory.

Hill led the Falcons with eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Maddie Maloney had seven assists and six rebounds. Henderson was six of eight for the night, and two for three behind the three-point line.

Henderson and Maloney both finished with a team-high 17 points.

"It was great to finally be back in a game situation," Henderson said. "Although we have had two scrimmages in the past couples weeks, I had not played an actual game since last March and we had not played a game as a new team yet."

One of the areas the Falcons look to improve on right away is their defensive pressure."We need to get better at making the [opposing] offense really work, forcing them to earn every point. I know we can do it," Hill said.

After losing so many key seniors last year, a win is a promising start to the season.

"We did lose a great group of seniors and leaders, but others are definitely stepping up and taking on those leadership roles," Henderson said. "I think starting on a win is great for the team’s confidence and I think from that win we can see that we still have so far to go and can be so much better."

The Falcons’ regular season begins on Friday. The Falcons will be in Bellingham, Wash., for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference-California Collegiate Athletic Association (GNAC-CCAA) Challenge when they play University of California, San Diego at 5 p.m. On Saturday the Falcons continue their road trip against California State Polytechnic University, Pomona also at 5 p.m.

The Falcons will be back at Royal Brougham Pavilion Nov. 24 versus San Francisco State University at 7 p.m.

"I think it is the start of many wins in the future, hopefully," Hill said of Friday’s game. "The game showed what we have to work on, but I know our potential. I think as the season goes on we are just going to continue to improve and get better. I am looking forward to a great season ahead."

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Title: Falcons set season bar high | Author: Janelle Johnson | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2008-11-19 | Internal ID: 5910