ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
The Manhattan College women’s basketball team completed a tour of Canada in the cities of Montreal and Ottawa on a winning note. The six-day trip resulted in a 3-1 finish for the Lady Jaspers.
With different game rules, such as wider lanes and a 24-second shot clock, there were some changes to get used to. This called for a fast paced game and strong offense.
“It was a great experience,” Coach John Olenowski said. “We played against really good teams with talented athletes. We adapted very well and played solid team basketball.”
In their first game, the Jaspers played strong defensively and earned a 65-58 victory against the University of Ottawa. They had a 31-16 lead at the half, which increased to 52-36 by the end of the third. The Lady Jaspers’ defense was sharp as they forced 22 turnovers. Offensively, five players had contributed at least seven points.
Their next win was earned with great team effort and chemistry. As scoring kept going back and forth, players stepped up when it was needed and helped win the game. After being tied at 26 by the end of the half, the Jaspers outscored their opponent 25-10 in the fourth quarter.
“When a game is close down the stretch,” Olenowski said, “it takes players to reach down and give it their best effort. We had a lot of players who did that in the close games.”
Whether it was a key steal or rebound, the team worked together to earn the victory. Three players had over 10 points, with Taylor Williams scoring 15 points and Jacqui Thompson finishing with 14. Shayna Ericksen also stepped up with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Despite their third game ending in a loss, there were some valuable lessons that came out of it. Their opponent was McGill University, a nationally ranked team who were the 2013 Quebec provincial champions.
“They were definitely a good team,” Ericksen said. “It helped us prepare for the season.”
Finishing off their trip, the Jaspers earned their third victory against the University of Quebec at Montreal. After being down in the first quarter, Blake Underhill’s three-pointer gave Manhattan the extra motivation they needed. They led scoring in the second to come within two points at the half. Taking the lead again in the third, the Jaspers went on an 18-13 run to get the win.
Once again, Manhattan’s defense was strong and helped the team earn the victory. They forced 39 turnovers against UQAM.
“Defense is our trademark,” Olenowski said. “We know how important it is for us to be successful. The fact that we caused a lot of turnovers is a very positive sign for our team. It was very good defensive pressure and steals at key moments.”
Overall, the team had a great experience that will help them continue to play strongly when their regular season begins. Players learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and will use what they experienced in Canada to prepare for the season.
“We’re a young team,” Ericksen said. “We learned how to work together and get things going.”
“It was huge for our program,” Olenowski said. “It gave us a chance to see different lineups and rotations. We developed strong team chemistry. I think it made us better overall as a program.”