The 13th-ranked women’s basketball team moved to 2-0 on the young season on Wednesday, cruising past the Oglethorpe University Stormy Petrels 77-50.
The Eagles were hot from the start. A pair of free throws and a layup from senior guard Savannah Morgan helped Emory establish a 15-4 lead less than five minutes into the first half.
Freshman guard Shellie Kaniut added a pair of consecutive three-pointers with just over nine minutes left in the half to push the Eagles’ lead to 25-8.
Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty was pleased with her team’s aggressive start.
“We played with a greater sense of urgency then emotion than we did on Monday [a 69-60 win over Salem College],” she said.
From there the outcome was never in doubt. A jumper from senior guard Selena Castillo pushed the halftime lead to a staggering 25 points. The Eagles dominated the first half in all aspects, scoring 17 points off 17 Oglethorpe turnovers and holding the Stormy Petrels to five-for-19 shooting.
The closest the Stormy Petrels got down the stretch was 20 points. A Lilly layup snapped a 5-0 Oglethorpe run to open the half. She added the next two baskets to give the Eagles a 46-22 lead with just over 16 minutes to go and put the game out of reach for good.
The Eagles closed the game in style with a 12-4 run in the waning minutes. Several bench players made their mark on the box score, with sophomore guard Fran Sweeney and senior guard Marissa Resnick knocking down shots in the final minute of play.
Resnick drained a jumper in the final seconds of play to create the final margin.
Kaniut led the Eagles’ attack with 13 points, while senior guard Hannah Lilly contributed 15 on six for 15 shooting.
The Eagles were also dominant in the paint, outrebounding the Petrels 50-36. Castillo and Lilly both led the way with eight boards apiece.
“I thought Stella had a really good first half,” Thomaskutty said, also praising the performances of the veteran Castillo and Lilly.
On the whole, it was a balanced effort for the team. Only three Eagles scored in double figures, but 12 managed to get on the scoreboard. Morgan had nine points, seven assists and five rebounds while Castillo contributed 11 points.
The team is getting most of its scoring from its backcourt – the top four leading scorers for Emory were all guards.
It wasn’t a perfect performance. The Eagles left a lot of easy buckets on the court that could’ve made the final margin of victory even bigger.
“We’re pressing, we’re turning teams over, but we’re not converting,” Thomaskutty said. “We’re missing a lot of layups and free throws.”
The Eagles, fresh off one of the best seasons in school history when they reached the Division III Sweet Sixteen, have looked good thus far in 2013-14.
They still have more than a month to hit their stride before University Athletic Association (UAA) play begins.
“Our young players want to get better and our seniors are continuing on their path,” Thomaskutty said. “The question mark for us right now is our leadership.”
Thomaskutty did compliment a couple of her seniors for the work they’ve done thus far.
“I think Hannah has definitely stepped into that role,” she said. “Savannah Morgan is a great leader as well. Our seniors are really stepping up.”
Emory will attempt to stay undefeated on the year when they host LaGrange College Lady Panthers on Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. The Lady Panthers are 0-1 thus far, but they will have played two more games (against Mississippi College and Centenary College (La.)) before they visit the Eagles.
– By Ryan Smith