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Oakland women lose to IPFW, fall to third place in Summit League

By Jake Thielen
Posted: Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Last Updated: Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Photo – Bob Knoska/The Oakland Post

With second place in the Summit League standings on the line, the Oakland University women’s basketball team lost its shooting touch at the worst possible time.

The Grizzlies (16-9, 10-4) fell behind early and never recovered as they fell to IPFW, 70-55, Saturday afternoon.

Oakland shot just 31 percent from the field in the first half and shot just over 34 percent for the game, while the Mastodons (17-6, 11-3) seemingly couldn’t miss. IPFW shot 54 percent from the field, including 8-of-17 from three-point range.

“They shot a great percentage and we couldn’t get stops,” Oakland coach Beckie Francis said. “We’re a great defensive team, so I give them a lot of credit.”

Francis said that the Mastodons’ experience, and the Grizzlies’ lack of it, was a major factor in the game’s final outcome.

“IPFW is a really good team — it’s a veteran team,” Francis said. “They have five starters back, and they were fired up to try to get a win on our court.”

“That’s an experienced team, and we’re a younger team. We sometimes have three freshmen on the floor, and it takes a while for a team to get confidence if you don’t hit a couple shots.”

Sophomore forward Bethany Watterworth scored 17 points for Oakland, while freshman guard Zakiya Minifee added eight points and eight rebounds.

Watterworth said the key for the Grizzlies moving forward is  simply to get their confidence back.

“We’re a great team, and we got a big weekend next weekend with the Dakotas coming in,” Watterworth said. “We just need to get after it in practice and work on the little things defensively.”

Senior guard Jordan Zuppe led the way for the Mastodons with 23 points, including 6-of-8 from three-point range, while junior forward Stephanie Rosado added 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

Watterworth often drew the tough task of guarding Rosado in the low post.

“(Rosado) had a good game, and their team just hit shots,” Watterworth said. “They shot over 50 percent for the game, so it’s tough to win when the other team is making half their shots.”

Despite falling into third place in the Summit League, Francis said she wasn’t concerned.

“We’re just going to improve and win games one by one,” Francis said. “We don’t care who we play. (We play) Saturday and next Monday, then we get our seed,  then we win three in a row and that’s our goal. When we’ve gone to the NCAA Tournament we’ve been a (No.) 3 seed and a (No.) 6 seed and we’ve still been in the tournament.”

The Grizzlies’ next game will be Saturday, Feb. 19, at home against South Dakota State University.

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Grizzlies defeat Cornell as Watterworth scores 16 points

By Jake Thielen
Posted: Monday, November 29th, 2010 at 9:09 am | Last Updated: Monday, November 29th, 2010 at 9:14 am

Sophomore forward Bethany Watterworth had 16 points and 10 rebounds, for her second straight double-double, as Oakland University defeated Cornell, 56-45, Sunday afternoon.

Watterworth had 22 points and 10 rebounds in Oakland’s 86-40 win against Rochester College on Nov. 22.
Watterworth said the win was a result of a great effort by the whole team.

“We were very unselfish with the ball, and everyone was involved,” Watterworth said. “A lot of people were scoring and everyone was really doing their part tonight.”

Junior center Brittany Carnago had 10 points, five blocks and four rebounds for Oakland, while freshman guard Elizabeth Hamlet had seven points in her first career start.

Oakland coach Beckie Francis said Carnago’s shot blocking early on was crucial.

“Blocking those five shots really set the tone for us defensively, to give us that nice comfortable lead in the first half, which we needed in the second half,” Francis said.

Oakland got off to a quick start, with an 11-0 run following Cornell’s basket to open the game. The Grizzlies led by as much as 17 in the first half, and entered the halftime with a 31-17 advantage on the scoreboard.

Cornell rallied to begin the second half, cutting its deficit to just four points, but that was as close as the Big Red would come.

Hamlet’s 3-pointer with 3:41 left in the game stretched the Grizzlies’ lead back up to 13, and they held on for the win.

“What we like about Hamlet is she’s really a smart player,” Francis said. “She played with Bethany Watterworth and Brittany Carnago in AAU for years, and those three work well together.”

Francis credited the team’s discipline on defense as the reason why Oakland survived the Big Red’s comeback bid.

“That’s what I was really proud of, is that they played smart defense,” Francis said. “We had that lead, and we wanted to keep that clock going. It’s just discipline. It’s just mental toughness that they showed.”

Carnago said one of the team’s goals on defense was to stay out of foul trouble and not go for too many steals to avoid reach-in calls.

Oakland shot 75 percent from the free throw line (15-20), while Cornell did not attempt a free throw in the entire game.

Watterworth said free throw shooting is one of the four key factors that the Grizzlies focus on for each game.

“We look at how many free throws they shoot and how many we make, and that’s just awesome that they didn’t even shoot a free throw and we got to the line (often),” Watterworth said.

Francis said the team will need to cut down on its turnovers if it hopes to continue its success. Oakland came into the game averaging 17 turnovers per game, and it had 23 against Cornell.

Oakland will begin Summit League play with its next game on Dec. 2, at home against Southern Utah. The Grizzlies will follow up with two more home games against UMKC and Illinois.

Francis said the five-game home stand is an opportunity for the Grizzlies to build some momentum.

“We’re really excited about the first conference game on Thursday, which is a doubleheader with the men,” Francis said. “We’re looking to take this confidence and roll it into the next game.”