Flash women bounce back in big way

LORETTO – To say that last weekend was an eye-opener for the St. Francis women’s basketball team might be an understatement.

The Red Flash were dominated and embarrassed at home in consecutive games.

Saturday afternoon at DeGol Arena, though, they got back on track in a big way.

St. Francis rebounded from its recent frustrations at the expense of Wagner in an 80-43 blowout in Northeast Conference action.

“A game like this, it was great for us because we were able to work on some things,” St. Francis coach Joe Haigh said. “We were able to move some people around. It was good to get confidence and experience for our freshmen. They got some good minutes today.”

It was a far cry from the Red Flash’s effort in a pair of double-digit losses to Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac just a week ago.

St. Francis turned the ball over 59 times and were outscored by a combined 37 points.

Saturday, the Red Flash (10-8, 5-2 NEC) had only 16 turnovers in the 37-point victory.

“They weren’t happy with the numbers last week,” Haigh said. “Averaging 30 turnovers a game – it’s not good enough. They make a conscious effort on their part to pull down some of the passes that they might have normally thrown.”

“We took those two losses at home personally,” senior guard Brittany Lilley said. “Today was definitely about us. We wanted it.”

St. Francis held Wagner (2-16, 1-6) scoreless for the first 7:46 of the game, and despite allowing the Seahawks to get within four a few minutes later, the Flash were in control the entire time.

Alli Williams only needed the first half to get her 13th double-double of the season. It was her seventh consecutive and 10th in 11 games. She finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds.

“[Lilley and Shene Fleming] told me at halftime that I steal a lot of rebounds from people,” Williams said with a chuckle. “I obviously couldn’t get the rebounds if my teammates weren’t boxing out. It’s not really me doing the work. It’s [Lilley] getting me the ball and Shene boxing out for me.”

Kia Gibbs had 10 points in 13 minutes, but more importantly, she had no turnovers. The senior had 19 giveaways last weekend.

Rebecca Keegan netted 10 points, and Fleming added eight. The post players were a combined 8-for-13 from the floor, even while missing a handful of point-blank shots.

“It’s great to have a nice win like this, but we’re still watching play by play,” Haigh said. “It actually looks a lot better than it felt at times during the game. It was a great team effort.”

The St. Francis defense was strong, too, holding Wagner to 15-of-52 (29 percent) shooting and forcing 27 turnovers. The Seahawks were just 3-for-19 (16 percent) from beyond the arc.

“Everything that we do is based on how we defend and pressure the basketball,” Haigh said. “We did get good energy and pretty good defense in the first half. It was disappointing last week. This is good. It’s something to build on going into Monday.”

The Red Flash will have fresh legs heading into Monday’s contest against in-state rival Robert Morris, too. Every player that dressed Saturday saw no less than seven minutes on the floor and the bench nearly outscored the Seahawks (38 points).

“It was good to see the group that doesn’t usually get a lot of minutes come in and take care of the basketball and continue playing hard,” Haigh said. “We will expect more contribution from them going forward.”

“We needed a confidence booster,” Fleming said. “We needed a chance to really get our energy up and see how good we can be, regardless of the opponent. I think today was more about us than Wagner. I think it was great. Everybody contributed. Everybody played well. It was an awesome team win.”

Even Williams, who averages over 35 minutes per game, got to take a breather. She needed only 29 minutes on the floor to reach her scoring average.

“Once I got out of the game, it was fun to get up and cheer,” Williams said. “I haven’t had that all season. It was really nice.”

Game notes: Jordyn Peck led Wagner with 12 points, while Veronick Fournier and Stephanie Blais each added 11. … The Seahawks dressed only nine players and were without starting forward Marie-Laurence Archambault (10.1 ppg), who has been battling a foot injury.

WAGNER (2-16, 1-6): Blais 3-13 5-6 11, Amorosa 0-0 0-0 0, Fournier 4-8 1-2 11, Thompson 1-7 0-0 2, Peck 5-14 1-3 12, Heiliger 0-0 0-0 0, Wade 1-4 0-0 2, Robinson 1-2 3-3 5, Jennings 0-4 0-0 2. Totals 15-52 10-14 43.

ST. FRANCIS (10-8, 5-2): Fleming 4-6 0-0 8, Williams 6-13 4-4 19, Gibbs 2-6 6-7 10, Lilley 0-3 0-0 0, Hayward 2-8 0-0 5, Carangelo 1-2 0-0 3, Taylor 2-9 2-2 8, Brock 0-0 0-0 0, Sparks 1-3 0-0 2, Perkins 1-1 2-2 5, Keegan 4-7 2-2 10, Watts 1-2 1-2 3, Doogan 2-3 0-0 4, Phillips 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 27-64 18-21 80.

Halftime-St. Francis 40-21. 3-point goals-Wagner 3-19 (Fournier 2-5, Peck 1-6, Thompson 0-2, Blais 0-3, Wade 0-3), St. Francis 8-26 (Williams 3-5, Taylor 2-9, Perkins 1-1, Carangelo 1-2, Hayward 1-5, Watts 0-1, Doogan 0-1, Lilley 0-2). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Wagner 33 (Fournier 9), St. Francis 45 (Williams 16). Assists-Wagner 9 (Thompson 3, Peck 3), St. Francis 20 (Williams 5, Sparks 5). Total fouls-Wagner 17, St. Francis 16. A-NA.