The Yeshiva Maccabees visited the College of Mount Saint Vincent this past Sunday for a Skyline Conference women’s basketball showdown, ending with the hometown Dolphins rolling to an 80-52 victory at the Peter J. Sharp Center.
Kristen Merrell, The Mount’s senior post player, said the victory “felt good” as the team improved to 3-1 overall, 2-1 in conference play.
“I felt like my team had my back,” she said. “I thought that we moved the ball really well.”
Clearly a leader on the court, Merrell scored 13 points as she converted 5-of-9 attempts from the floor while also adding an impressive six steals throughout the matchup.
The convincing victory was the result of the Dolphins shooting a combined 50 percent from the field, relying on an array of shots from inside the paint.
“If we’re off outside, we find what else comes to us,” Merrell said. “Today that was post-game. I knew that certain plays were always open. We executed very well on both offense and defense, and I’m happy with the final score today.”
Tiffany Smart, the Dolphins’ first-year coach, said her team likes to “play fast.”
“We like to go up and down the floor,” she said. “We look to get easy buckets. We don’t want to run our half court offense. We want to make the defense wait until they make a mistake. We want to react to those mistakes and make them pay.”
The victory was extra special for Smart, marking her first home win as the Dolphins head coach.
“It feels good to be home,” she said. “We had a crowd out and we had our support. I think that today was a big day for us to continue to build off of.”
Despite the lopsided score, the Dolphins struggled early in the second quarter, calling for Smart to remind her players what they stand for.
“We had to lock in defensively, we started getting away from our defensive principles,” she said. “We were not in our gaps, and we needed to make adjustments after the second quarter ended. They came out after halftime, made those adjustments, and the game was over.”
Afterward, Merrell discussed how this team is different from previous years.
“In the past we had a lot more shooters, but this year we bring a lot of different things to the table,” she said. “These new things that we have to offer will help us out in the long run.”
One of their new assets is freshman Leah Pinili, the team’s starting point guard.
“Basically I have to learn how to trust the system, and learn how all of my teammates play,” Pinili said. “Since I’m new, I have to learn how to trust everyone on the court with me. But I also have to see how I can contribute to the team as well.”
Pinili shot 4-for-8 from the field to finish with 11 points while adding a pair of assists, but appeared to be the team’s general and premier facilitator.
”As long as we continue to play hard for the rest of the season, I think that we will do well,” Pinili said.
Other highlights from the game included 18 points from junior Kelly Oliver, already a season high for the shooter. Kelly Nola had a 16-point outing, while Yamilersy Reyes contributed 11 points and two steals.
In all, five different Dolphins scored in double figures.