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WBB: Yustat’s career-high not enough to lift Lady Colonels

Nicole Gaetani

Nicole Gaetani

Kirsten Peters, Staff Writer

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On Jan. 31, the Lady Colonels played a hard-fought game against the Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Devils, being defeated 104 – 63.

In the MAC Freedom, FDU-Florham is tied for first with King’s University with a record of 7-2. However, overall FDU-Florham has sole possession of the lead with a record of 14-6.

Considering FDU-Florham’s stellar MAC Freedom standing, the Lady Colonels were up against some steep competition, which they had faced once before this past season at the Devils home court.

During their first match-up on Jan. 3, senior guard Emily Sofranko led the Colonels offensive effort with 15 points in their 90 – 59 point loss. Sophomore forward Gianna Roberts, who is currently Wilkes’s leading scorer with an average of 10 points per game, and sophomore guard Sierra Smith added 10 points apiece in their last match against the first-place Devils.

When facing FDU-Florham this past Wednesday, the Lady Colonels rookie players from the bench controlled their offense. Sophomores Kelsey Yustat and Roberts were the Colonels leading scorers of the night with nine points apiece. Sophomore guard Alyssa Alfano tacked on an additional eight points as well.

The Lady Colonels capitalized in the second quarter, when the Devils leading scorer of the game, sophomore guard Kendrea Williams, was on the bench. Williams led the Devils offense with a total of 37 points, 18 of which were from three point range alone. With her on the bench, the Lady Colonels were able to close the 33-11 point deficit from the first quarter and finish with a 48-33 point deficit to end the first half.

But after halftime, the Lady Colonels were not able to out-play the Devils wicked offense of Williams, junior forward Bria Smith who scored 19 points and sophomore guard Gabrielle Harris who scored 16 points. These three leading-scorers accounted for 69 percent of the Devils 104 points of the game, with a majority of their points coming from driving into the paint.

Although the Devils dominated in the paint, they were equally matched with the Lady Colonels at the free throw line, making 63 percent of their free throws and just edging ahead of the Colonels 60 percent.

Despite this similarity, the points on the scoreboard are reflective of the Devils ability to maintain the upper hand, where they took advantage of the 14 turnovers and 20 fouls contributed by Wilkes.

According to Yustat, one of Wilkes’s primary scorers for the night, it can be daunting to face the number one seed in the conference, especially as a team that has lost some of its key players due to injury.

“Sometimes it can be intimidating to play a tougher team in our conference, but I was happy to contribute to the team’s effort in a positive way,” said Yustat.

Looking forward to the rest of the season, Yustat expressed her devotion to the game, noting that the Colonels are focused on maintaining their team comradery and finishing out the season together.

“Our goal for the rest of the season is to continue coming together as a team and to end on a strong note,” Yustat commented. “I think the best part about our team is that we have faced a lot of adversity, yet we still continue to have a strong bond.”

This message was echoed by Wilkes head coach Chris Heery, who is in his seventh season of coaching Wilkes basketball.

“For a team that has suffered so many injuries, their fight has never been stronger,” coach Heery noted optimistically.

Although the team has struggled with the presence of injury, their determination and head-strong desire to do well as a team is what keeps them going against stiff competition.

As for the recent game against FDU-Florham, the Lady Colonels presented a persistent defensive effort in addition to their predominantly sophomore-driven offense. Roberts led the Lady Colonels defense with a total of six rebounds. Senior Catey McFadden and sophomores Chelsea Erkes and Yustat added a combined nine rebounds to Wilkes’s defensive efforts.

According to McFadden, a seasoned forward with seven points and three rebounds for the night, “We’re feeling positive about the rest of the season. We know that we have a tough couple of games coming up, but we’re going to play hard until the end of the season.”

Being a senior, McFadden is soaking up the rest of her time as a Lady Colonel, noting, “Our team, as a whole, has remained close throughout the season, which I think is one of our main qualities. We are going to finish out the season together and continue to play for each other.”

With the rest of the season in sight, the Lady Colonels have five MAC Freedom match-ups left against Manhattanville, DeSales, Misericordia, King’s and Eastern. Be sure to come support the Lady Colonels at their two home games against Misericordia and Eastern.

FDU-Florham 104, Wilkes 63

FDU-Florham (104) — Kendra Williams 12 7-7 37, Bria Smith 8 3-4 19, Gabrielle Harris 7 1-1 16, Cayla Staggers 4 0-0 8, Raven Dowling 0 0-0 0, Michaela Piserchia 4 1-4 9, Kayla Croswell 3 0-0 6, Jennah Roman 2 0-0 4, Taiah Thornton 1 0-0 3, Aleah Bass 1 0-3 2, Mariah Martinez 0 0-0 0, Nijah McQueen 0 0-0 0. Totals 42 12-19 104.

Wilkes (63) — Gianna Roberts 3 3-5 9, Alyssa Alfano 3 1-2 8, Catey McFadden 3 1-2 7, Chelsea Erkes 3 1-2 7, Emily Sofranko 0 2-2 2, Kelsey Yustat 4 0-0 9, Sierra Smith 3 0-3, 6, Ahriyah Richardson-Watson 2 2-3 6, Maddie Kelley 2 0-0 4, Jamie Campbell 2 0-0 4, Jordyn Garcia 0 3-4 3. Totals 23 14-23 63

FDU-Florham`31`17`32`24–`104

Wilkes`11`22`15`15–`63

3-point goals — FDU 8 (Williams 6, Harris, Thornton); WIL 3 (Alfano, Erkes, Yustat).

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WBB: Yustat’s career-high not enough to lift Lady Colonels