Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22nd, 2017: St. Peter's at Iona

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Marina Lizarazu’s driving lay-up with 3.4 seconds left was the deciding basket in Iona’s 51-50 comeback win over St. Peter’s. Lizarazu finished with 17 points and five assists. The Gaels were led by Alexis Lewis, who had 25 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, to go with 10 rebounds and six steals. St. Peter’s got strong performances from Sajanna Bethea (19 points, nine rebounds) and Zoe Pero (18 points, nine rebounds) in the loss.

For crutches, swag, hashtags, accepting small children, trains (but not planes or automobiles), last-second shots, and just a soupçon of fear, join your intrepid and introspective blogger after the jump.

Today’s not Senior Day for Iona, but it’s still the last home game of the regular season. The day off was already scheduled, so here I am on an uptown 6 train, working my way towards Pelham Bay Park and the 45 bus that will take me to New Rochelle.

Going to games alone is a quieter, but still thrilling experience. There’s not as much pressure to be loud, but at the same time there’s more freedom.

I am not okay with this stop and go on the 6 line. I have a bus to catch, y’all. What is with this holding us for no good reason?

Made the bus. Spent a good part of the afternoon in New Rochelle just chilling and catching Pokemon. The taco grill near Iona is pretty good.

Fun fact: Barnes and Noble gift cards can be used at collegiate bookstores if those bookstores are run through BN College. Fun fact: friends and family who don’t know what to get me get me Barnes and Noble gift cards. Swaaaaaaaaaaaag.

This is not of the good: starting forward Treyanna Clay is on crutches, with her right foot in a boot. Tilasha Okey-Williams is out of the sling she was in last game, but she doesn’t appear to8e active either. St. Peter’s is not good, but one of their star players just happens to be a bruising post, Sajanna Bethea. I’m not real thrilled about this turn of events.

I like Iona’s new warm-up shirts with the #MindOn2 hashtag.

Tilasha, don’t play with your saran wrap.

At halftime, it is 26-23 St. Peter’s, and I am not here for this. There’s a hotshot freshman for St. Peter’s, Zoe Pero, who has 11 for the Peacocks to power them ot this lead. The rebounding has been hot mess for Iona. I am not amused.

I am, however, completely and totally here for Marina Lizarazu hitting game-winning shots. (Yes, she traveled. Yes, she pretty much just pretended she was playing running back. Given how bad these refs were most of the night, I will take it and you will like it.)

Imani Martinez played very briefly near the end of the third quarter, as another big body to throw at Iona. They were not impactful seconds. Samantha Meier brought physicality on the glass. I’m surprised they don’t use her more, but then again, that means fewer minutes for Pero and Bethea, and that might not be good for the Peacocks’ future. Alyssa Velles is very offensive-minded- she’s in the game to chew gum and shoot threes, and I think she just ran out of gum. She tries on defense, but for the most part, she was the offensive side of offense-defense substitutions. Something about the way Janelle Mullen reminds me of a cat- maybe it’s her eyes, maybe it’s the way she holds her hands out. I don’t know. But she’s quick and she sees the angles. If she could finish at the rim, we’d be talking about St. Peter’s breaking their losing streak, and these notes would be much angrier. I’m not sure what year she is, but I know she’s not a senior, so she has time to work on finishing through contact (and without contact- there was no excuse for two of her early misses).

Pat Coyle apparently believes the children are her future, because she started three freshmen, and I don’t know if I’d start Lochner or Tarabocchia over Mullen based on what I saw tonight. Brianna Tarabocchia brings effort on defense, which is a good sign out of a freshman, and she was the one to come out of the scrum with rebounds time and time again. Sammy Lochner was unmemorable. Talah Hughes seemed to caught between positions, unsure whether she should be taking jumpers or going inside. I’ve always thought of her as a forward, but St. Peter’s lists her as a guard. I’m not sure if that’s new, though.

Zoe Pero made one heck of a first impression, scoring inside and out to the free throw line. I don’t know if she’s that good or if she just wasn’t on the scouting report and we left her open. She did a decent enough job of hitting contested shots that I’d like to believe she’s just that good. I mean, this is St. Peter’s, and this is Pat Coyle’s team, which means if she’s good she’s going to get buried on the bench in the very near future. Sajanna Bethea has a nicer midrange jumper than I remembered, and still brings the physicality inside. She can be reckless when she drives- her first two fouls were both offensive, for running over Iona defenders. Getting run over by Sajanna Bethea is probably even less fun than getting run over by your average offensive player.

It’s late in the year to say St. Peter’s is a team in transition, but maybe they’re getting a head start on 2017-18. Pero is promising, and she and Bethea will be a very dangerous frontcourt next year if the Peacocks can get out of their own way. (Which is not guaranteed with a team coached by Pat Coyle. Me? Bitter Liberty fan? Naaaaaawwwwww.)

It’s good to see Philecia Atkins-Gilmore back on the floor, bringing the energy. I admit, she’s even fun to watch on the bench, cheering her teammates on. Phee’s going to be a coach someday, mark my words. Kristin Mahoney was surprisingly solid. I’m wondering if she’s made the quantum leap. She seemed confident running the point when the Gaels were forced to go small. If she’s found her confidence instead of looking like a deer in the headlights, I’m thrilled for her. Tori Lesko brought the hustle, scrapping for loose balls on the floor and disrupting plays. I love her heart, even if I don’t love her pass catching abilities.

Amelia Motz has shoulders that make me need to go to the gym. It’s not that they’re crazy over-built like Loree Moore’s, but the definition is eye-catching. I’d like to see her be more assertive, but that will probably come with time (and perhaps with Lexi not chucking as many shots). Treyanna Clay showed us her heart today- I suspect she had no business playing in this game, and she gave us 33 minutes of defense. She had trouble hanging on to the ball, and she seemed more tentative on offense. All things considered, I don’t care. Get well soon, Trey. Karynda DuPree, for three quarters, regressed back to her sophomoric self. She was missing bunnies and letting them get into her head. She was softer on the glass than she should have been. But in the fourth quarter Karynda was all business. She found her groove on the inside. She rebounded harder. She shut down Janelle Mullen with a tough, tough block late in the game to help seal it.

Alexis Lewis is as capable of shooting us out of a game (like she did in the first half) as she is of shooting us back into it (like she did with three threes in the fourth quarter). What makes the difference for her, and why she’s so critical to have in the game whether she’s hitting or not, is her ferocious rebounding. Lexi doesn’t care whether you have the ball. She’s going to make sure you don’t have it anymore. She taps. She pokes. She deflects. She makes the plays in the air that either she or one of her teammates can finish on the ground. She’s enigmatic sometimes, and frustrating sometimes, and glorious so much of the time. Marina Lizarazu carried the load for most of the game. I think she was frustrated at the contact that wasn’t being called on St. Peter’s. We’re going to miss her when she’s gone, but let’s enjoy her while we have her.

Something that struck me tonight that I don’t think I’ve had the opportunity to see from Iona often- their ballhandling on the ground was phenomenal. There were three sequences- one from Tori, one from Lexi, one from Marina- where the Iona player was on the ground and still maintained her dribble. Given how much fun the officials were having with the definition of travels tonight, that was critical to curtailing the turnovers any further.

I didn’t see how Trey went down. I saw her sort of halfway down and not able to get up. She tried to put weight on her legs- you could see them trembling, though. She was walked off to the locker room with support from some of the bench staff. She came back to the bench for the end of the game, but she had the crutches again. Trey :(

Officials. Oy gevalt. All I ask for is consistency. If you call the light touch on Iona, call it on St. Peter’s. If you’re not going to call St. Peter’s for forcing the infraction, don’t call it on us.

Free throws win ball games! Both teams missed more than their fair share.

The kids behind me were annoying to start out with, but once they got into the game, the extra noise ammo was appreciated. And they played a decent biddy game. (Go into the paint, though.)

I think, though I’m not sure, this is the first time I’ve ever heard a pep band attempt to play “Everybody Dance Now (Gonna Make You Sweat)”. If it was, it was surprisingly awesome, or awesomely surprising, one of those.

So in the end, it turned out to be worth the day off, and the sleep that will be short when I get home, and the staggering array of public transit vehicles I have taken today. (Two buses, three trains going up; one bus and two trains going back.) It was a worthy farewell to the Hynes for the season.

See you in the fall, Gaels. Keep fighting the good fight.

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