LOCAL COLLEGE: LAdy Roylas Get Abck To Basics, Rout Susquehanna
SCRANTON — After their first loss of the season, the University of Scranton women knew what needed to be done. Whatever was conveyed to them by their head coach or within the locker room after Saturday’s loss to Elizabethtown, Wednesday’s Landmark Conference romp over visiting Susquehanna showed that the Lady Royals took the message to heart. Makenzie Mason led a balanced attack with 15 points, Abington Heights graduate and freshman Hannah Kowalski scored 12 in her first career start, and Sofia Recupero also added a dozen as Scranton rolled to a 70-42 victory at the John Long Center, the team’s 48th win in 49 meetings with the River Hawks. “I think we knew we had to come out today really strong just to get our blood pumping again and put us back on track where we needed to be,” said Recupero, who got the Lady Royals (19-1 overall, 8-1 Landmark), ranked sixth in Division III, off the mark quickly with six points in an early 8-0 run. “I thought it was a good win in that we really needed that to keep moving forward. “That loss in particular was a huge wake-up call to our whole team. No one wants to feel that way again. We have a big target on our back and we can’t just let people come on our court and do that to us.” The loss marked the first time this season the nation’s fourth-ranked defense allowed 60 points. From the start, the Lady Royals were focused on that end, limiting Susquehanna to just 28.6 percent from the floor and only six second-chance points. “I thought we refocused on the defense,” head coach Trevor Woodruff said. “After seeing the film, we lost our way a little bit. We regrouped, went back to the basics, challenged the kids to show some toughness and play Lady Royals basketball, which is defense and rebounding. “We’ve given up 60 once all year and we saw what happened.” Against the River Hawks, Scranton yielded just 18 points through two quarters, and Kowalski broke down the defense and powered to the basket with 5 seconds left for a left-handed layup and a 29-18 halftime lead. “She’s got a ton of ability,” Woodruff said. “Everyone knows that. I’m continuing to challenge her defensively. I think she could be an incredible defensive player, just like she is at the offensive end — very, very talented. “She’s an important player for us if we’re going to do some championship things this season, she’s going to have to be one of the reasons why. We’ll continue to push her and lean on her and hopefully she’ll continue to respond.” Offensively, Scranton had scored 60 points just once in the five games Bridgette Mann has missed with a sprained ankle. But over the final 20 minutes in particular, the Lady Royals seemed to find something. “We rely on Bridgette with her 3s but I think tonight we were able to move the ball around,” said Mason, who scored 13 over the final two quarters. “We were able to get it in the post and kick it out. I think in the second half we were able to kick the ball up more and we were getting the transition offense and fast breaks. That’s what really opened the lead for us.” Recupero took a pass in the post from Mason for a layup, Dunmore product Emily Sheehan scored off another of Mason’s four assists, and Mason’s spin move and finish extended the halftime lead to 35-18 in the first 2½ minutes. “Without Bridgette, we kind of lost our identity because she was our security blanket in a lot of ways,” Woodruff said. “We could do a lot of different things, and at the end of the day if they didn’t work out, she might bail us out. “What we tried to do today and will do moving forward is just focus on throwing the ball in and playing inside out. I thought we had a lot of post touches, some scoring, some passing out of the post, but we wanted to make a conscious effort to throw it in. I think that’s something you’ll see us do more as we move forward.” Besides the quick start, the victors added a 10-3 spurt to end the quarter, thanks in part to freshman Emily Shurina, who came up with a block and rebound, an offensive board and three free throws in that stretch. “Offensively, she’s really a talented player,” Woodruff said. “We’ve been waiting for the defense to catch up. We feel that she’s at the point where she can help us a little bit at both ends now so we’re going to put her in there, because we know we need some help on offense, and she can do that.” Shurina, Mason and Kowalski combined to score the team’s final 25 points as the Lady Royals remained two games in front of Elizabethtown and Juniata atop the Landmark standings. Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100, ext. 5437; @mmyersTT on Twitter Susquehanna (6-13, 3-6) — E. McQuillen 5 1-1 14, A. Lemire 3 0-0 7, A. Connolly 1 3-6 5, O. Brandt 2 0-2 5, S. Comfort 2 0-0 4, N. Hoenninger 1 1-2 3, M. Welliver 1 0-0 2, H. Timko 1 0-0 2, A. Petrozzino 0 0-0 0, V. Lombardi 0 0-0 0, R. Sweger 0 0-0 0, M. Emlet 0 0-0 0, T. Evans 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 5-9 42. Scranton (19-1, 8-1) — M. Mason 5 5-5 15, S. Recupero 5 2-2 12, H. Kowalski 5 1-2 12, T. Rodriguez 3 1-2 9, E. Shurina 1 6-8 9, D. McCurdy 1 3-4 5, A. Gammo 1 0-0 3, K. Farney 0 0-0 0, E. Worzel 0 0-0 0, C. Heineman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 19-25 70. 3-point goals: McQuillen 3, Lemire , Comfort. Rodriguez 2, Kowalski, Gammo, Shurina.