SPORTS

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November 25, 2008

Unranked Carroll upsets women’s hoops

In a sort of David versus Goliath matchup, women’s basketball found out what it’s like to be the giant to get tangling up by the little guy.

Taking the hit of their first loss of the season, the 11th-ranked Maroons (2–1) posted a 19–5 run late in the second half at Carroll College (2–1) Saturday but still fell short of a comeback. A 29-point performance by second-year guard Lyndsey Seewald was enough to trip up Chicago and send the Pioneers home with a 72–66 win.

Going up against a Carroll squad with four starters boasting double-digit point averages, the Maroons’ defense needed to be in full focus to put a stop on Carroll’s drive to the basket. Chicago had the size advantage to do it, but the team got thrown for a loop by the Pioneers’ five-guard formation.

The undersized Pioneers, led by the five-foot-five Seewald, showed plenty of athleticism and quick reflexes to make up for the missing inches. The Maroons outrebounded Carroll 41–24 but tallied only three blocks.

Seewald in particular had a knack for finding her way around Chicago screens. She scored 15 points in the opening half and remained unstoppable until the final buzzer, sinking five points with 2:45 remaining and nailing three free throws within the last 30 seconds to ice it for the Pioneers.

“Our defensive style would’ve combated her,” head coach Aaron Roussell said. “There were times when we did everything right and she still made her shots. She has that elevation that she can get a shot off anywhere.”

A key sub from the bench for the Pioneers last year, Seewald wasn’t the same offensive dynamo in her rookie season, averaging 7.4 points per game compared to her team-leading 22.0 this year. Saturday, though, she keyed Carroll’s dribble penetration and led a defense that took 31 turnovers away from Chicago.

“We made it too easy for them to make easy baskets,” Roussell said. “I also think we just started trying to do too much and played a bit out of our heads.”

Despite the lapses, the Maroons kept themselves in position for a late win. The Pioneers never led by more than six points in the first half, and a last-second jumper by first-year guard Bryanne Halfhill pulled Chicago to within three at the break, down 35–32.

Halfhill notched 13 points on the night, joining third-year forward Molly Hackney (14), third-year guard Micaela White (13), and fourth-year guard Alex Leach (10) as Maroons to hit double digits on the board.

“We played very well in some stretches, but we weren’t consistent,” Roussell said.

The ups and downs in Chicago’s play were more apparent in the second half when the Pioneers and the Maroons exchanged long runs. Carroll opened up the half with an 11-point flurry to expand its lead to 46–32 two minutes after the break. Chicago responded with a 19–5 stretch keyed off by a layup from White.

Shortly after White’s basket, the South Siders regained possession and Leach drained a three-pointer that began her 10-point contribution to the squad’s comeback push.

By the end of the run, the Maroons held a 59–56 advantage with 8:32 left to play, but the Pioneers quickly closed the gap. The teams had to break three ties as the clock ticked down from 4:28, starting with two Carroll free throws that put the hosts ahead at 64–63.

“I’m proud of the fact that we made a strong run, but we spent a lot of energy to get to a comeback,” Roussell said. “To Carroll’s credit, they didn’t back down.”

The 72–66 upset at Waukesha was a tough loss for Chicago, but the young squad looks to regain some of its sharpness and focus this weekend, when it heads to the St. Mary’s College Thanksgiving Classic.