Hornets pick up first conference victory

By Jerry Holsworth – sports@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER – After losing their first two games in USA South play, Shenandoah University’s women’s team came back Sunday and defeated Greensboro College, the defending conference champs, in convincing style, 74-55.

The Hornets (3-4, 1-2 USA South), who lost to Methodist on Saturday, took advantage of 29 Pride (1-5, 0-3) turnovers to get the win on their home court.

“Our defense definitely improved as the game progressed,” Shenandoah coach Michelle Guyant-Holloway said. “We’ve struggled with that off and on this season. Today we were really focused and we got a good effort from everyone.”

Greensboro jumped ahead early thanks to an 0-for-3 start by the Hornets from the field. But the Pride also committed five critical turnovers over the first five minutes of play that gave them little opportunity to take advantage of Shenandoah’s poor shooting.

Once the Hornets began to find the basket, they steadily built a big lead. Katherine Flint was the key to Shenandoah’s success, not just in scoring, but in all phases of the game. The senior point guard led all scorers with 22 points, including four 3-pointers. But she also produced seven assists and seven turnovers, and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line.

“I thought that our intensity helped us a lot,” Flint said. “After yesterday’s loss, we wanted to come in here today and bounce back strong. I knew that for us to do that, I had to take the lead and knock down some shots.”

With 3:51 left in the first half and Greensboro leading 25-24, the Hornets struck hard, both offensively and defensively, going on a 13-2 run and leaving the Pride trailing 37-27 at halftime.

Shenandoah was led by Flint, who scored seven points over the final four minutes of play in the half.

The Pride didn’t help them themselves by committing 15 first-half turnovers and managing just 23 shots to the Hornets’ 34.

“There were some positives today, but there were also some negatives,” Greensboro coach Randy Tuggle said. “We’re starting three freshmen and we have five freshmen all together in our rotation so we’re very young. We averaged 77 points a game last season, and only 10 of those points are still on the team.”

One Pride freshman showed a lot of promise despite her youth. Bianca Richburg led the team in scoring with 17 points, and in rebounds with 14.

“I feel as though we’re making progress,” Richburg said. “I was a little timid at the beginning of the game. But I saw that we were down, and I started to play more aggressively. I really didn’t want to lose this one.”

The Hornets began the second half where they left off at the end of the first. Shenandoah went on a 15-2 run over the first five minutes, not allowing a bucket by the Pride until Richburg sank a jumper with 14:34 left in the game.

During the run, Shenandoah nailed all six of their free throw attempts, and Flint chipped in three 3-pointers.

Midway through the half, the Hornets led 57-39 and were beginning to replace several of their starters with substitutes. The infusion of new players, however, made little difference in Shenandoah’s domination.

“We’re starting to get a little bit of understanding on what we’re trying to do from our bench players now,” Guyant-Holloway said. “Our backup post players came in and gave us some quality minutes today. Stephanie Holton also played well at guard. They’re all working hard in practice, and they seem to be coming around. It’s a long season and we’re going to need them.”

Besides Flint, Amy Rhoderick had nine points and eight rebounds from her post position for the Hornets. Junior forward Sierra Edwards added seven points and eight rebounds.

“After coming off a loss yesterday, it was good to be able to play a good basketball game and show our fans what we’re capable to doing,” Guyant said.