On Saturday, the Elizabethtown College women’s basketball team traveled to the University of Scranton to face a Royals team that was ranked 14th in the nation by D3hoops.com. The Royals entered the game with a 17-2 overall record and an almost unblemished 9-1 record in the Landmark Conference. Before the game, the Blue Jays sat in fifth place in the Landmark Conference standings, one-half game behind Moravian College for the fourth and final playoff spot.
“We were definitely nervous because they are such a good team, but at the same time we gave them a good game last time we played them,” sophomore guard Nikki Thompson said. “We got hurt by their bigs inside and three-point shooters last time, so we experimented with different defenses this time to try to stop that.”
Etown struggled with shooting all day, making just 22.5 percent of their shots in the first half before raising their shooting percentage to 25 percent by the end of the game. The Blue Jays did not connect on any of their 10 three-point shots attempted.
On the other hand, Scranton shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half and connected on 14 of their 17 free throws in the first half. The Royals opened a 40-16 advantage at halftime. The Royals also outrebounded the Blue Jays 47-27, leading to 18 second chance points for Scranton.
The Blue Jays’ lone bright spot came from senior forward Taylor Alwine who, despite her team’s tough shooting day, made all six of her shots from the field. Alwine finished with 12 points for the game, leading Etown in scoring. Nine other Blue Jays scored in the game, but aside from Alwine, no one could register more than four points.
Scranton kept the pressure on, outscoring Etown 29-18 in the second half to cruise to a 69-34 Landmark Conference victory, solidifying their spot atop of standings.
Etown looked to put the game behind them and take it as a learning experience.
“Coach Gorman always tells us to play our game and focus on doing what we do best to succeed, so we don’t watch a lot of film,” Thompson said. “I think if we face them again in the future it would be beneficial to watch film and change some things up that didn’t work this past game. The last few games are really important in order for us to secure a spot in the playoffs, so for now we need to move on and forget about the game and face the rest of the teams with confidence.”
The Blue Jays, who dropped to 6-5 in the Landmark Conference, entered last night’s game at Catholic University still just one-half game out of the fourth spot due to Moravian College’s loss to Catholic on Saturday. However, Juniata College’s victory over Drew University pulled the Eagles into a fifth place tie with the Blue Jays.
Catholic entered last night’s contest with an 8-3 Landmark Conference record and sat in third place in the standings.
With only four conference games remaining before the Landmark playoffs begin on Feb. 25, the Blue Jays will need to remain confident heading into each game.
“Personally, I have a lot of confidence in our team and our abilities,” Thompson said. “If we work together and execute, I believe we have the talent to win out. Each player contributes something different and we need everyone to have confidence in what they can do so we can work together and win these last games.”
In a big Landmark Conference matchup between the Blue Jays and the Cardinals, Etown took full advantage of the opportunity. Junior guard Rachel Forjan turned in one of her best offensive performance of the season, scoring 25 points on seven of 13 shooting from the field. All seven of Forjan’s field goals came from beyond the 3-point line. Junior guard Alyssa Aichele played a solid game, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds in the win. Sophomore guard Krissy Pennell ran the point for the Blue Jays, dishing out three assists and scoring nine points.
The Blue Jays are now 7-5 in the Landmark Conference and have taken over the fourth and final playoff spot after Moravian College’s loss to Scranton. Etown will host Goucher College Saturday at 2p.m. and honor its three seniors.