By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
ATHENS — It’s nearly impossible to score points if your team doesn’t have the ball in their hands. That hampered the Concord women’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon in the Mountain Lions’ 80-77 loss to visiting Notre Dame College.
The first Mountain East Conference basketball game at the Carter Center was an evenly-matched affair, with 16 lead changes and 10 ties.
In such a tight contest, it was rebounding that tipped the scales. The Mountain Lions (2-2) were only able to get 19 offensive rebounds off their 42 missed field goal tries, and were behind in the overall rebounding stat 49 to 45.
The Falcons (2-0) had 25 second-chance points to Concord’s 22.
“Our inability to rebound cost us the game,” said Concord head coach Kenny Osborne. “They (Notre Dame) hit the boards, and they executed plays when they had to.”
The Mountain Lions seemed to be chasing the lead most of the first half, with the Falcons claiming an early 14-7 lead via a pair of three-pointers. Concord rallied to take a couple of two-point leads, and went ahead 41-40 with 1:57 left before halftime.
The Falcons scored the next two buckets and led 45-43 at intermission.
Notre Dame head coach Katie Hine said, “We let them get a lot of offensive rebounds early, and that was an adjustment we tried to make at halftime, to limit their offensive boards.”
Concord had the ball to begin the second half but came up empty on their first four trips down the floor.
Osborne said, “We missed some layups. Start of the second half, I bet we missed probably at least three layups, and that came back to haunt us.”
In a span of four minutes after a media timeout, Concord drove into the paint repeatedly and matched the Falcons basket for basket. Andrea Bertrand knifed through the Notre Dame defense to produce Concord’s last lead, 59-58, with 10:20 remaining. The Falcons then scored 11 straight points.
Osborne said, “We could never get the lead, and the ball, in the second half.”
The Athenians fought back to get within two points, 75-73, on a jumper from Sissy Wagner in the final minute. However, with 34.9 seconds left, Concord’s Jacqueline Kestner was called for a foul in the paint and the lead official assessed a technical on Osborne. He was still upset by that call well after the final buzzer.
From that point, Notre Dame hit 5 of 7 foul shots to stay in control. Wagner’s long-range three-point try at the buzzer fell short and Concord’s win streak ended at two games.
Hine said, “It was obviously a pretty even game. I think we came up with a few big rebounds at the end that sparked us into some positive possessions on the offensive end. We got to the foul line a little bit more than they did toward the end, so that was beneficial.”
Wagner scored a career-high 26 points, going 7 for 7 at the foul line and making three treys, and had four assists for Concord. Kestner added 11 points, 12 rebounds and two steals. Sammi Webster was 5 for 8 from the field and had 11 points, along with seven rebounds and four of Concord’s seven blocks.
Notre Dame guard Martha Nagbe, a 5-foot-7 guard, was all over the floor, with 23 points and 15 rebounds.
Hine said that Nagbe was the freshman of the year among independent colleges two years ago, then missed last season with a torn ACL.
“We were without her all year, last year,” Hine said. “It’s nice to have her back.”
Osborne said, “We told them she was going to drive and put her head down and crash the boards, and that’s exactly what she did. We had no answer for her.”
Erin Entinghe had 14 points, 11 rebounds and two steals for the Falcons. Curtney Clark had 11 points and six assists.
Osborne said, “The thing about it is this was a home winnable game, and we didn’t finish. ... We’re not tough mentally at times, and when the game got on the line, we let it get away from us.”
Concord will host another new MEC school, Urbana University, on Monday afternoon, the last contest until after Thanksgiving. Admission is free, the university announced on Saturday.
Osborne said, “We’ve got to try to take care of some mental things, and then we go out and play and try to send them home on a happy note.”
— Contact Tom Bone at email@example.com