By VICTORIA NICOLAOU
The Niagara Knights women’s basketball team continued its recent success, extending the team’s winning streak to three games with the Knights’ best offensive showing of the season.
Scoring more than 80 points for only the second time this season, the Knights beat the visiting Mohawk Mountaineers 85-59.
“We’ve been playing a lot more aggressively defensively in the second half of the year and it seems to be working for us,” said Head Coach Mike Beccaria. “When we shoot the ball well…we’re pretty good.”
Bridget Atkinson put up 22 points, and Hannah Baker and Rysa Delmundo added 20 and 14 points respectively.
All five starters contributed to the strong first quarter, scoring a combined 29 points on 65-per-cent shooting.
But in the second quarter, the Knights lost their rhythm as the Mountaineers switched up their defense. Beccaria said his team has struggled from time to time this season with zone defenses, and it took the Knights “a few minutes to get acclimated.”
Midway through the third quarter, as the Mountaineers turned a 13-point, half-time deficit into a six-point game, Beccaria was ready to take a time-out. But both Beccaria and the home fans watched as Atkinson hit her first field goal of the quarter, sparking a 6-6 run with 12 points, including 2-2 from the three-point line.
“Bridget made that shot and then I figured we were good to go and we were,” said Beccaria.
On the strength of Atkinson, the Knights stretched their lead to 19 points, only allowing the Mountaineers to score three points in the final five minutes of the third quarter.
The win against the Mountaineers was the Knights’ third straight win since the holiday break.
Beccaria acknowledged the time off gave the coaching staff an opportunity to review what was working and what was not.
“(We) realized that we needed to be a lot more aggressive defensively and we needed to get the tempo of the game up because whenever the game slowed down we’re not overly efficient,” said Beccaria.
The ability to dictate the tempo has played a huge role in the Knights’ winning streak, scoring 75 points, 72 points and 85 points in their last three games.
Another reason for the team’s recent success has been the play of the bench, which was strong once again, scoring 24 points against the Mountaineers, led by Alannah Yates’s 10 points.
“We’re playing a lot of players,” said Beccaria. “Some of the inexperienced girls are coming along and having a semester under their belt. Some of the girls who are rookies, they’re getting more comfortable.”
With the win, the Knights evened out the season series against Mohawk, getting revenge on a 65-49 loss earlier this season.
The Niagara Knights men’s basketball team also continued their strong season, beating the Mohawk Mountaineers 101-93 to extend their own winning streak to four games.
Van Hutchinson led the Knights’ scoring with 27 points, 15 rebounds and three assists. Alex Elliott added 17 points, and Jordan McDonald contributed 16 points with 15 rebounds in the win.
Leading 44-39 at halftime, the Knights used a strong 27-point third quarter to extend their lead.
But the Mountaineers were not done. Late in the fourth quarter, as the Knights took their foot off the gas, Mohawk turned a 20-point deficit into seven points. The Knights were able to hold on for the win, securing their fourth victory in a row.
Both Knights basketball teams were scheduled to play on the road Tuesday evening against the Sheridan Bruins.
The Knights will face Lambton Sunday afternoon at the Niagara College Athletic Centre beginning at 1 p.m.