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Judges suffer from a second-half slump

By Curtis Zunyu He

Section: Sports

January 30, 2015

As the new semester began, the Judges finally returned to their home court after a tough journey west. But what they were facing at in Gosman on Sunday, Jan. 25, didn’t spare them a chance to take a breath as they lost to the University of Chicago on Friday, 50-67 and fell short again against Washington University in St. Louis, 58-77. The Judges’ overall record fell to 9-7.Siljeholm.20150125.9607

Despite a tough loss, the Judges showcased one of their best first-half performances this season in their game against the No. 3-ranked Washington Bears. Their determination to end the losing streak was all over the floor for the Judges early on as they accomplished an impressive 56.7% field goal shooting performance in the first half. The number not only rose to the top of the season so far, but also surpassed the Bears by more than 30 percent, which gained the Judges a huge advantage to help them lead the first 20 minutes.Siljeholm.20150125.9604

It was Hannah Cain ’15 who led the team, scoring eight of the Judges’ first 10 points, plus an offensive rebound. Then, after the Bears’ height advantage helped them with a second-chance score to make it a two-point game at 18-16, guard Paris Hodges ’17 stepped up with two consecutive three-pointers to retain the momentum. Moreover, the Judges’ counterattack became very effective as the team showed impressive effort in boxing out and fast breaking. Cain also had four more assists in only 10 minutes, and the Judges scored 44 points off of 11 assists in total. Besides the effective defense at low post, the determined attacks into the paint and the patient half-court offense were all contributing to the perfect first-half performance of the Judges with a 12-point lead.Siljeholm.20150125.9603

However, the Bears turned around the situation in the second half as they outscored the Judges by 31 points in 20 minutes with a cumulative score, 45-14. The Bears suddenly started defending in the backcourt with intense double teams and their offensive players began vehemently attacking the rim. The Judges were no longer able to find good chances for fast breaks as the Bears became much more efficient in the paint and more aggressive with offensive rebounds when their shots were closer to the rim. Melissa Gilkey turned out to be a nuclear bomb for the Bears as she ruthlessly scored all of her 12 points in the paint and none of the Judges could stop her. The Bears picked up nine offensive rebounds for second chances whereas the Judges were only able to collect 6 defensive rebounds. “If a team is out rebounding us, it’s not because they’re simply taller than us. It’’s because we aren’t doing our job boxing out” said Cain.Siljeholm.20150125.9601

The focus of the Judges’ offense was forced out of the paint as starting forward Tori Dobson ’16 had to find shots in the mid-range from time to time and forward Olivia Shaw ’18 had an attempt outside the three-point line. Under such effective defense of the Bears, the Judges achieved neither three pointers nor free throws in the second half which truly hurt the team’s energy to a great extent. And the Bears strongly revealed their true ferocity, finally closing out the game at 77-58.Siljeholm.20150125.9574

Daunted by the double team full-court defense from the Bears, the Judges managed to keep their turnovers low, with only five in the second half. Compared to their average 18.9 turnovers per game, 12 turnovers in this game is a success, especially facing such intense defense from the Bears. “We put an emphasis on taking care of the ball during practice and that translates to games. We really focus on being strong with the ball and making good passes, which leads to less turnovers and more looks at the rim for us,” said Cain.Siljeholm.20150125.9571

This Friday, Jan. 30, the Judges will host another tough opponent, Emory University at home at 6 p.m. The Emory Eagles are not satisfied with their UAA conference performance so far as they have achieved a 2-3 record and a 10-6 record overall.

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