Kean Goes Up Early, Stays Ahead Of Falcons In 87-67 Win
With Bryn Swartz, GoMessiah.com reporter
"Kean is a great team that shot the ball really well today, " said Messiah's head coach Mike Miller. "They did a tremendous job of ball pressure and forcing turnovers. We forced turnovers ourselves but the turnovers that they forced allowed them to score easy baskets. When we got behind (as much as we did) we ran out of gas. We just hit a wall at the end."
As a team, the Falcons turned the ball over a season-high 29 times, with each starter totaling at least four turnover apiece. They did force 22 turnovers, but their minus-seven turnover differential cost them on the scoreboard.
"Kean is a very unique team," Miller said. "They're one of the most athletic teams in the nation. We were really trending down on the turnovers recently. I just think we need to be able to sustain effectiveness throughout 40 minutes and keep working on it. We play really hard but we need to take care of the details- like not turning the ball over, for 40 minutes."
The Falcons trailed for all but nine seconds of the first half. Though, for the most part, they did a solid job at keeping the score relatively close. They trailed early, 22-10, but rallied to cut the lead to 25-21. They also trailed 37-27 but scored eight of the next 10 points to cut the deficit to four, 39-35.
But Kean embarked on a late surge to finish out the first half, and the Falcons spent the majority of the second half trying to overcome a double-digit deficit. It appeared that they had a chance when they turned a 63-46 deficit into 63-54 difference with just over six minutes remaining. But Kean scored the next four to hold on for an 87-67 victory.
In the first half, the Falcons shot 14-of-23 (60.9 %), including 6-of-10 on three pointers (60%). But they shot just 6-of-24 (25%) in the second half, including only 2-of-11 on three pointers.
And as impressive as the Falcons' field goal shooting was in the first half, Kean shot just a little better (19-of-30 for 63.3%). Kean finished the game connecting on 35-of-58 field goals (60.3%). Six different players for Kean scored double-digit points, led by Naimah Clemons with 19.
For Messiah, juniors Kira Maier and Dori Gyori led the squad with 15 points, while classmate Nicky Hess added 14 points. Sophomore Taylor Miller scored eight and dished out six assists, with classmate Chelsea Danel scoring seven.
Gyori added 10 rebounds, four blocks, and two steals to her 15 points. But her early foul trouble forced to spend a good portion of the first half sitting on the bench.
"Dori's foul trouble in the first half really hurt us," Miller said. "She was playing very well and we had to exert a lot of energy to cover (her absence) and we ended up running out of gas in the second half."
For the Falcons, the loss dropped them to 5-3 on the season. Kean University improved to 7-2. The Falcons have four more games remaining on their eight-game road trip, but none until after the completion of Messiah's first-semester finals, which Coach Miller says will be a relief for his girls. The next four road games are also neutral court games, which will allow the Falcons to feet as much at home as their opponent.
They have seven days off until they play in the Cruzin Classic in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Their first match-up is with Manhattanville College on Saturday, December 17, at 12:00 p.m.