BY NATALIE HEAVREN, SPORTS EDITOR
Women’s basketball improved to 5-4 after they defeated former Colonial Athletic Association rival University of Delaware 72-46 Thursday night. The team extended their non-conference home winning streak to 14 games, which started during the 2016-2017 season.
“Very good team win for us tonight,” head coach Nyla Milleson said. “Probably the most exciting thing was we were back home at EagleBank Arena.”
Here are four takeaways from the Patriots win.
- Sophomores are stepping up
Mason’s three leading scorers against Delaware were their three sophomores. Camarie Gatling scored a career-high 17 points, Nicole Cardaño-Hillary added 16 and Marika Korpinen contributed 13, her second double-digit game in her four starts this season.
This is just the second time all three have scored in double figures, the first coming in the first game of the season.
Combined, the three sophomores contributed 21 rebounds and six assists. Gatling added two blocks and Cardaño-Hillary had a season-high five steals.
- Rebounding is key
“Rebounding is a big key for us every night,” Milleson said. “We’re still on the year outrebounding teams. I think we’ve only been outrebounded twice and both of those times we have lost.”
Coming off of two losses in which they were outrebounded, Mason outrebounded Delaware 47-28 and 16-6 on the offensive glass. As of games through Dec. 6, Mason is averaging 43.78 rebounds per game, with the Patriots currently ranked 37th in the country in rebounds per game.
All 11 Mason players grabbed a rebound, and five grabbed at least five. Gatling led the team with 10 rebounds for her second career double-double and Korpinen added six, including four off of the offensive glass.
- Both balanced scoring and sharing the ball yield positive results
“I thought Livy [Livija Kaktaite] came in and did a great, great job for us,” said Milleson. Kaktaite came off the bench to score a career-high six points in 16 minutes.
Despite Mason not scoring for the first 3:18 of the game, nine players ultimately scored, with six scoring at least six points.
“Sarah [Kaminski]’s really the one that came off the bench and got us started,” said Milleson. Junior Kaminski came off the bench to break the early scoring drought and score the team’s first five points, as well as eight of their first 10 points.
The team had 16 assists, their second-highest mark of the season. Junior Jacy Bolton tied a career-high five assists. “When we share the basketball we’ve really got some people that can knock down shots,” said Milleson.
- “Trust and Protect”: Staying out of foul trouble comes from good defense
Two things that Milleson focused on when talking about the team was staying out of foul trouble, as only Gatling had three or more fouls, and trust and protect.
At the post-game press conference, she said, “We trusted our teammates and guarded the ball. We moved our feet, we protected the paint well for the most part. When we do that and we get in good position, it’s a whole lot easier to stay out of foul trouble and that’s what we’ve really, really been working on.”
The team committed only four fouls in the first half, tying their second-lowest total in a half, something they also accomplished in the second half against Colgate University.
The team goes on the road to take on Eastern Kentucky University on Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. It returns to Fairfax to take on the University of Houston on Dec. 21 at 4 p.m., beginning their three-game homestand to finish out conference play.