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  • Writer's pictureNICO MANGANIELLO

Women’s basketball drops home opener to University of Maine at Augusta

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Sophmore guard Juju Nealy attempts to dribble past a defender. Photo courtesy of Janard Jones/Lasell Athletics

On Saturday afternoon the women’s basketball team took on the University of Maine at Augusta in the Athletic Center. A tight back and forth contest between the two non-conference opponents saw the Lasers come up short losing by a score of 74-70.

The Lasers started the game out strong and were able to build a 16-12 lead over the Moose eight minutes into the first quarter. However, the Moose would take over in the last two minutes going on a 10-0 run over the Lasers to gain a six point lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter would see the two teams battle back and forth in an almost even matchup, but the Moose were able to stay ahead of the Lasers with a halftime score of 37-33.

Sophomore guard Mia Sullivan-Sanders of the Lasers boxes out freshman Haley Paquet of the Moose. Photo courtesy of Janard Jones/Lasell Athletics

The tide would change in the third quarter when freshman guard Shirle Major helped push the Lasers into the lead. Back to back three pointers from Major and sophomore Mia Sullivan-Sanders had the Athletic Center erupting, but momentum truly swung in favor of the Lasers as Major completed an “and one” play after getting fouled on a successful layup. The play gave the Lasers their first lead since eight minutes into the first quarter. Major would finish the quarter with eight points and an assist.

Major has made a great impression on the coaching staff early on in the season. “[Major] is a phenomenal scorer. She has a really good knack to be able to put the ball in the basket and find different ways to do that. So I'm excited to see her growth throughout these four years. She's been doing a good job of being really coachable for us,” Lasers’ second year head coach Kelley Sundberg said.

The Lasers would take a two point lead going into the fourth quarter with the score 55-53. A big help to the Lasers’ success in turning the tide was their swarming defense which caused 31 turnovers, leading to 26 points for the Lasers.

According to Sundberg the Lasers defense was a big part of the game plan going into this matchup. “We've been working on press and just really picking up our pace on both ends of the floor. And then also, with [Augusta], their first couple games, they just had higher turnover, so we thought we would use that to our advantage,” the Lasers’ head coach said.

Players watch a shot attempt from Lasers' freshman Sydney Brundage. Photo by Emmett Anderson

The Lasers were able to hold off the Moose for most of the fourth quarter, until freshman guard Alisyn Alley took control of the game for the Moose, as she stole a ball from Lasers’ freshman guard Brenna Graber and took it coast to coast for two points in favor of the Moose, giving them a 65-64 lead.

The Moose would extend their lead to four points with 40 seconds left by a score of 71-67, but a clutch three from Lasers’ sophomore guard JuJu Nealy would cut the Lasers deficit to one point. However, the Moose would close out the Lasers in the last 19 seconds getting three points to win by a score of 74-70.

Alley led the way for the Moose with 25 points including nine in the fourth quarter. The Lasers were led in scoring by Nealy who finished with 24 points.

The Lasers defense boxes out their opponents on a free throw attempt. Photo by Emmett Anderson

Despite the loss there were some positives to take away for the Lasers. “It's a very young group and we're growing with our concepts. I think there are definitely some things that are there. I think we rotate really well when we're in that position. I think some of our returners are doing a good job of executing and making sure that they're doing their role and their concepts,” Sundberg said.

The Lasers will head up to Maine for a two game road trip next Friday and Saturday taking on University of Maine Presque Isle and University of Maine Farmington.

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