Pace Women’s Team Loses to the Visiting Owls

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Allie Monteleone shoots the ball in Pace’s home loss to Southern Connecticut.

There were times on Saturday afternoon when it seemed the Pace women’s basketball might be falling hopelessly behind, perhaps late in the first quarter when visiting Southern Connecticut State University opened up a 15-point lead or just before the half ended and the Owls’ cushion had grown to 20.

But Setters head coach Carrie Seymour is quick to scoff at any suggestion her team is ever out of a game before halftime.

“No, no, no, no,” she replied emphatically when asked if she was beginning to think her team had dug itself too large a hole to climb out of. “That’s our job. Our job is to win games. Our job is to be competitive. You can’t say we don’t have a chance at this. And it doesn’t make a difference what the scoreboard shows.”

Sure enough, the second half seemed to be played by a different Setter team, one that ran off 15 straight points and eventually tied the game late in the third quarter. But the Owls never allowed Pace to grab the lead and they recovered sufficiently to earn a hard-fought 62-57 victory over their hosts in a Northeast 10 Conference game at the Goldstein Fitness Center.

“They came out and made shots,” said Seymour about the Owls, who had dropped their previous three games. “It’s like anyone else in our conference. They’re just very aggressive. We were back on our heels in the first half. The first half, we weren’t playing as a team. It was a lot of one on one.”

The Setters never led even once in the game and an early 9-0 blitz by SCSU opened up a 13-4 Owl lead. Two free throws by Aaliyah Walker with 2:10 left in the first quarter left Pace trailing 22-7. A 3-pointer by Setter freshman guard Lauren Hackett 20 seconds into the second period narrowed the gap to 24-16 before a 14-3 Owl burst extended Southern Connecticut’s margin to a whopping 19 points.

When Erin Ryder drilled a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining in the first half, the Owls’ advantage swelled to 20. But Pace, now 3-8 this season and 2-5 in the NE-10, began its long climb back just before halftime. A jump shot by Jackie DelliSanti, who finished with team highs of 13 points and 11 rebounds, started an out-of-nowhere 20-2 run that brought the Setters to within 45-43 midway through the third quarter.

“In the second half, we went off the dribble more and we screened for each other,” said Seymour, whose Setters were just 3 of 14 from beyond the 3-point line in the opening half. “We set each other up better and we got better shots.”

After making 16 of their 26 shots from the field over the first two quarters, the Owls misfired on 11 of 13 attempts in the third. With just over a minute left in the quarter, the spunky Hackett drove the left baseline for a basket that tied the score at 47 apiece. Unfortunately for the Setters, SCSU then closed the period with a bucket from Kiana Steinauer and two free throws by Imani Wheeler and never relinquished the lead.

“The game’s 40 minutes. If you don’t get over the hump at one point, you still have other opportunities,” said Seymour. “You’ve just gotta keep playing and make the plays in front of you. Not taking the lead when there’s still time on the clock doesn’t really affect the outcome of the game. Whoever has the most points when the clock goes off, that’s the only thing I’m concerned about.”

Steinauer, the NE-10’s leading rebounder who finished with game highs of 18 points and 17 boards, scored inside with 2:45 left to give SCSU a 57-51 lead. But a 3-pointer by Hackett and later another by Allie Monteleone cut the Setter deficit to just 59-57 with 45 seconds to go. And even though Monteleone misfired on a 3-point try from the left corner that would’ve tied the game with 15 seconds left, Pace got one last chance after the Owls’ Wheeler came up empty at the foul line.

But with Pace trailing 60-57 and 7.8 seconds on the clock, Hackett’s inbounds pass was picked off by Steinauer, who then made two free throws at the other end to clinch the win for the Owls, who started the season 5-0 before their recent struggles.

“Well, Allie was the first look,” said Seymour about the Setters’ fateful final possession. “If she wasn’t open, we were supposed to flash back to the ball. We didn’t flash back for the ball and we didn’t have any timeouts, so I couldn’t call a timeout.”

As a result, the Setters are now in the midst of their second three-game losing streak of the season.

“The good news is we have a game on Tuesday,” said Seymour. “We’ve got to get back into it. We’ve never gotten into a good rhythm yet this year. We need some people to spend more time focusing on what we believe would be helpful for the team and make the team successful.”

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