In a five-game losing streak, the Warwick Vets girls’ basketball team has had tough offensive nights, tough defensive nights and two heartbreakers.
On Thursday night, the ’Canes just had bad luck.
Vets shot just 17 percent from the field and could never recover from a tough first half despite playing great defense. The result was a sixth straight loss, as Mount St. Charles beat the ’Canes 45-32.
Vets did plenty of things right, cutting down on their turnovers, rebounding well and forcing the Mounties into two long field-goal droughts. The ’Canes also executed on offense and got the shots they wanted.
But the shots just wouldn’t fall.
“We had an impossible shooting night,” said Vets head coach Owen Paquet.
The ’Canes were coming off one of the heartbreakers, a 34-33 loss to a 4-2 Lincoln team last Tuesday. Against Mount, who’s behind Lincoln in the II-North standings, Vets expected another strong performance.
But the Mounties took control early, racing to a 19-6 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. The ’Canes made just one field goal in that stretch.
“We couldn’t buy a basket, and Mount St. Charles was making everything for a while,” Paquet said. “They were impressive. They didn’t miss many shots.”
The ’Canes eventually settled in at the defensive end and held the Mounties to just one field goal and four points in the final 6:52 of the first half. But Vets didn’t take full advantage. Victoria Flynn converted two driving layups and Katie Gregory hit a jumper over the final three minutes of the half, but that was all Vets could get. The ’Canes shot four of 27 from the field in the first half and went to the break trailing 23-12.
“The bounce passes were there, the execution was there, we just couldn’t finish,” Paquet said. “The shots were hitting rim, backboard, everything – just no net.”
The ’Canes have delivered several second-half comebacks this year, so an 11-point deficit wasn’t too daunting. It grew to 18 when Mount started the second half with a 9-2 run, but the ’Canes kept pushing. They switched from a 1-3-1 to a 2-3 zone defense and promptly held Mount without a point for almost six minutes.
But again, shots weren’t falling and that made it tough to capitalize. After a quick 6-0 run on two Casey Bennett free throws, a Gregory layup and a Cassidi Hunter-Plouffe layup, the ’Canes went cold. They hit just one field goal over the next five minutes.
Bennett ended the drought with a three-pointer at the 6:40 mark, making it 35-25. She hit one of two free throws a minute later to trim the lead to nine, but that was as close as the ’Canes could get. The Mounties outscored them 10-6 the rest of the way.
“We fell into a 2-3 defense and the girls held their own,” Paquet said. “They were communicating well defensively. We just struggled to score tonight.”
Gregory led the ’Canes with 10 points, while Bennett and Flynn added eight each. Theresa Pereira scored 13 to lead the Mounties, and Noreen Mulledy had 11.
The ’Canes are now 2-7 in league play but they won’t overreact to the bad shooting night. They’ve played well in several games and still did a lot of things well on Thursday.
“We don’t have to go back to the drawing board because we’re doing what we want to do,” Paquet said. “We’re there. I really like how the team’s progressed for being a little over halfway done right now. We’ve improved mentally, physically. The girls have increased their skill level, and we’re doing what we want to do as a team. We’re in the places we’re supposed to be. We’re playing some decent defense. We’ll do a lot of shooting drills to try to knock down those shots.”
The ’Canes will have an uphill battle for a playoff spot. The top 16 teams in Division II qualify and Vets is outside that group now. With seven games left, they’ll be looking for a surge.
“I’d love to say we’re in the mix, but it’s close to call right now,” Paquet said. “All the chips are going to have to fall our way because we’ve had some real heartbreakers. We always have a shot. It’s always a goal for us. We’re just going to keep pushing and keep fighting every game we have.”