These Night Hawks have a knack for finding themselves in tight contests.
Thomas’ 75-67 win on Wednesday marked it’s fourth consecutive game decided by less than 10 points, with the exception of its 96-74 win over then-No. 6 Embry-Riddle last week.
Wednesday was no different.The largest lead by either team was a 10 point Thomas advantage in the late stages of the second half.
Both squads came out with a faced-paced attack and combined for 19 points through the first five minutes. Post play was present, but not as prevalent as the mid-to-outside shots, evidenced by a combined 117 field goals attempted.
Officiating greatly slowed the tempo in the second half, however. Thirty team fouls were called – including technicals – and it took over an hour to get through the final 20-minute period.
One technical was called on a noisemaking device from the bleachers – enough to prompt Cox to use a timeout and personally talk to the fan.
The TU girls started Wednesday’s game as if their five game winning streak was in the back of their head. The Lady Night Hawks jumped out to a 30-13 lead through the first 12 minutes and rode to a 78-67 finish.
The victory didn’t come without some second half anxiety, though.
Johnson & Wales churned out a 17-7 run within the first five minutes of the final period and brought the game to within four.
“That happens with any young team,” TU girls coach Coretta Brown said. “We went into halftime [and] they knew they were up. We got relaxed and we stopped being aggressive offensively, we weren’t attacking the basket. Defensively, we weren’t getting out and contesting the shots. That’s what I preached when we started the game: that we had to be the aggressors.”
Thomas responded by drawing 12 fouls and notched 11 free throws on 20 attempts, many of which were tack-ons to already scored baskets.
Brown believes the Wildcats’ second half surge actually benefitted her team in terms of confidence, while citing a resiliency she hoped to see more of this year.
“We’re a young team and a first time program, and we’ve been tested constantly,” she said. “I’m definitely happy with the win – a five game losing streak is tough for any coach – but I’m more proud of their effort and the way they played tonight.”