SIX IN A ROW: Bay Women Grind Past Muskegon
Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Siena Lingle and Coach Todd Ciochetto. Also click the AUDIO button to hear Cam Carver-Bonner's player spotlight interview.
MUSKEGON---What a difference six weeks can make in sports.
Just a little over one month ago, the Bay College Norse women's basketball team limped home from Illinois after suffering two lopsided losses. The Norse had a 4-7 record, and there really wasn't much going right as the Christmas break approached.
But the Norse have turned their season around under new Head Coach Todd Ciochetto, and now have a six-game winning streak after beating the Muskegon Community College Jayhawks on the road Saturday afternoon, 80-73.
Freshmen guards Siena Lingle and Ashlee Burchette both scored 23 points and freshman center Jada Freudinger added 15 as the Norse won their tenth game of the season, surpassing the win total for the entire season last year.
“That's a really nice win,” Ciochetto said. “I was really hard on them the whole game, while I was actually happy with them most of the game. We're getting better now, and they're starting to understand some things. So, we can be harder on them because they're coachable. We didn't shoot well, but we finished better, and we made a lot of free throws. A lot of people stepped up.”
The Norse led for most of the game, except for one sequence in the second quarter where the Jayhawks took a brief led. Bay jumped to a 13-4 lead in the first quarter, and led 18-8 late in the quarter before Muskegon went on an 11-0 run to take a 19-18 lead.
But Burchette took over, routinely driving to the basket and shredding the Muskegon zone defense. She had four baskets and made all four of her free throws in the first half, and Lingle also ran the floor well, with two baskets and three free throws.
Jada Freudinger drew the tough task of guarding Muskegon's best player, the inside-out threat of Ty'Veonna Davis. Freudinger took a charge late in the first half, and on the next possession, battled Davis for a jump ball that gave the Norse a possession.
Bay was able to build a 36-26 lead at halftime, and had a 50-39 lead midway through the third quarter. But Muskegon was able to stay in the game behind the dynamic inside-out play of Davis, who wound up with a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds.
The closest Muskegon got was 61-58 midway through fourth quarter. But that's when Lingle drove to the basket for two, and Emma Rutter went to the glass for a basket and foul. That old-fashioned three-point play gave Bay a 64-58 lead with 5:19 left.
And Freudinger, playing with four fouls (along with Burchette, also with four), put the game on ice with a basket in the paint with 1:18 left, making it a 69-60 game.
Lingle had seven rebounds, four steals, and three assists to go along with her 23 points.
“I played better than I have been, and I think we played way better as a team,” Lingle said. “It's just way more fun than the way it was at the beginning of the season. We were definitely on today (on free throws). We were a bit off today on our three's (just 4-of-24), but we covered with our free throws, which is nice. It was definitely nice to have a good game like that.”
The Jayhawks (7-8 overall, 1-1 MCCAA) went to Hack-a-Shack with almost two minutes left, but the Norse made their free throws, especially Lingle and Burchette, who made a combined 20 of 25 free throw attempts.
“We think we're a good free throw shooting team when our focus is there, and, obviously, our focus was there,” Ciochetto said. “They started off with zone (defense) and they figured out they couldn't zone us because we could get to the rim. I just think we're getting better. I think, honestly, we're the second-best team and they're the third-best team (behind Mid Michigan) in the conference.”
Ciochetto also had four time outs in his hip pocket, and used them down the stretch to advance the ball past half-court, preventing the Jayhawks (who had run out of tome outs) from pressing or trapping.
“This is six (wins) in a row,” Ciochetto said. “I said we were going to get ten in a row going into Mid Michigan, and I think we will.”
After picking up two conference wins on the road, the Norse (10-7 overall, 2-0 MCCAA) have a busy week this week with three games at home: Monday against Grand Rapids Community College, Wednesday against Alpena Community College, and Saturday against Delta College.
The games Monday and Wednesday start at 5:30, and the Saturday contest starts at 1:00. All will be broadcast live on FM-106.3 and on-line through the link at www.baynorse.com.