Women control destiny after dominating win
February 19, 2007 —
Knowing a win was necessary to keep its spot as the eighth and final seed in the GLIAC postseason tournament, the SVSU women's basketball team almost let it slip away Saturday.
SVSU withstood a Wayne State run to open the second half and responded with a run of its own to defeat the Warriors 69-60 in Detroit Saturday.
WSU took a one-point lead, 41-40, with a 15-5 run in the first five minutes of the second half, but the Lady Cards wouldn't let that get in the way of a much-needed win to improve their record to 7-9 in the conference.
"They really wanted to win this one," coach Vonnie Killmer said. "The mentality [after the run] was, 'Let's pick it up and go win this game.'"
The Lady Cards took the lead right back from the Warriors with a jumper by junior forward Latille Ross, and after a media timeout, held WSU scoreless for the next three minutes as they extended the lead to 52-41.
SVSU's lead reached as high as 15 late in the first half, but the Warriors cut it to nine by halftime before coming out strong in the second half.
"The first four to five minutes of the second half are key to winning," Killmer said. "We just can't seem to win that part of the game."
As Wayne State made its comeback to take the lead, the Lady Cards shot 2-of-6 from the field, committed five turnovers, and were whistled for six fouls.
"We panic," Killmer explained. "We don't always adjust when teams go on their runs. We start looking at everybody else for an answer."
Ross and junior Jenna Schroeder led the Lady Cards during their game-changing run, scoring all 12 points - six apiece. Ross finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Schroeder added 15 points, five assists, and five rebounds without committing a turnover.
"Jenna's a scorer," Killmer said. "She can create, which not all the girls can do, so she's harder to guard. She can get her shot off quick, and she likes to score."
The Lady Cards also got a big contribution from senior Valerie Smith, who scored a game-high 16 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
The closest the Warriors would get again was five points, at 60-55, with four and a half minutes left. Neither team would score again until 1:39 remained, though, when Ross made a clinching lay-up off a feed from Schroeder.
SVSU turned the ball over twice and WSU three times during that three-minute span. It was simply a continuation of the entire game's trend, as the Lady Cards finished with 23 turnovers and the Warriors with 22.
The win was key because on Saturday, Ashland, which sat one game behind SVSU for the GLIAC's second "Wild Card" spot and eighth seed in the tournament, hosted Mercyhurst, the worst team in the conference. The Eagles won 78-60, keeping the Lady Cardinals just a game ahead in the standings.
Because Ashland plays in the South Division, which has one fewer team than SVSU's North Division, the Eagles only have one conference game left while the Lady Cards have two.
SVSU hosts No. 15 Grand Valley State Wednesday before rival Northwood comes to O'Neill Arena Saturday. SVSU needs to win just one of those two games to clinch the final spot in the tournament.
"We can beat anybody in this conference. The question is if we can play focused enough," said Killmer, whose Lady Cards lost to the Lakers 65-55 Nov. 30. "It would be better to get that one win against Grand Valley."