STEUBENVILLE - The Franciscan University women's basketball team opened a promising season with a tough non-conference loss to the Chatham University Cougars, 71-58, on Tuesday.
Under fifth-year head coach Suzy Delaney, the Lady Barons took the court for the first time this season, and the squad looked fearless in the game's early minutes, bolstered by a Lucia Westrick's layup to give the team the early lead.
Defensively, the Lady Barons initially kept Chatham from getting the looks they wanted; seldom did the ball penetrate beyond the 3-point arc. However, the zone defense played extensively by Franciscan eventually exposed a vulnerability beyond that arc, and Chatham his several long-range 3-pointers. At the conclusion of the first quarter, Chatham held an 18-13 lead over Franciscan.
That lead would only expand, as Chatham University would outscore the Lady Barons 21-8 in the second quarter. As the Lady Barons sought to eliminate clean 3-point shots by the Chatham, which allowed the Cougars to penetrate the key. The visiting squad took a solid 39-21 lead into halftime.
The third quarter would see a tightened, renewed defensive front from the Lady Barons. Chatham University found their customary 3-point shots tough to come by, a factor which contribute to their 35.3% 3-point percentage for the game. Though the Lady barons matched the Chatham Cougars nearly point for point, they could do little to erase the deficit accrued in the first half.
The fourth quarter was dominated by Franciscan University, specifically by sophomore guard Reagan Stead and junior center Lucia Westrick, as the Lady Barons outscored the Cougars 21-14. Delaney specifically referred to both Westrick and Delaney post-match as two positive takeaways from the team's first game.
"They kept after it tonight, against a good Chatham team" said Delaney, in reference to her hardworking squad. "We just need to learn from this and move forward with it."
The team's overall demeanor, said Delaney, is a crucial factor for their success going forward.
"The girl have great attitudes" she said. "We just have to keep fighting, keep battling, keep trying to improve. That will come."
The Lady Barons next take the court Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. against Bethany College, as Franciscan looks to take down a team which last year defeated Delaney's squad 83-60.