Category Archives: Basketball

UCONN Continues to Put Women’s Basketball In The Spotlight

Trey Lower, Staff Writer

This weekend was the end of one of the greatest winning streaks in sports history, as the UCONN Lady Huskies women’s basketball team was stunned in overtime by Mississippi State in the Women’s Final Four.

Surely you heard about the amazing streak, which was the longest in the history of Division I college basketball. The incredible streak of 111 games started so long ago that when it began Barack Obama was still president, The Force Awakens hadn’t been released, and The Big Bang Theory was still funny.

In this parity-filled sports world, there has been one consistency over the last few years, and that is UCONN women’s basketball winning streak. It’s the most dominant stretch that I can think of since what I like to call the “Decade of Dominance” by UCLA in the late 60s and early 70s, when it looked like the Bruins would never lose the championship. Women’s basketball was slowly gaining more attention, but thanks in part to UCONN, the game has had more awareness than ever.

When a team goes on a roll like UCONN, people take notice. An accomplishment of this scale requires more coverage than the women’s game would receive if there was more parity and the landscape was more like the men’s game.

UCONN did things that had never been done before in sports and people like seeing history being made. Whether they rooted for UCONN and wanted to see history in the form of the longest winning streak ever or they hated the Huskies’ dominance and wanted to see history in the form of David taking down Goliath, the streak had captured people’s attention.

The question of “would UCONN ever lose again” became a talking point. It made its way through mainstream sports media and made a whole lot more people aware of what Geno Auriemma and his basketball team were accomplishing.

There were comparisons and debates about how this streak stacked up against other historically great streaks and other sorts of media coverage for this unbelievable team. Regardless of people’s feelings about UCONN and its accomplishments, they had feelings and that is what mattered. People like seeing history being made, and with each extension of the streak, the Lady Huskies were making history.

The cold irony for the Huskies was that with all the attention it had gathered for its incredible and unprecedented winning streak, the climactic moment of the whole thing was always going to be the upset that put an end to it.

The inevitable finally occurred on Friday, when Mississippi State beat the Huskies in the Final Four, 66-64. The game and its remarkable finish drew levels of viewership rarely seen in the women’s game.

It was deemed one of the greatest upsets in basketball history and the best moment of the entire college basketball season, men’s or women’s. Despite the fairy-tale ending for Mississippi State, the magnitude of this moment was a direct result of UCONN’s streak.

If the longest winning streak on planet earth wasn’t at stake, this game wouldn’t have had the historic implications that it did, and as a result wouldn’t have drawn the gaudy viewership numbers it achieved. According to ESPN Public Relations, the game was the most streamed game in women’s Final Four history.

Sports is ultimately about storylines, and the UCONN Huskies gave women’s basketball one of the most interesting ever. The most dominant team in the history of time, and the inevitable Cinderella story that would come from its defeat provided a level of intrigue that had not been matched this year by any of the more widely popular sports leagues. 

Photo source: UCONN Women Basketball website

Edited by: Brea Childs

 

Looking Back at Wingate’s Basketball Season

Alex Taylor, Staff Writer

The Bulldogs had successful and thrilling basketball campaigns this season, on both the men’s and women’s teams. The men’s basketball team performed well throughout the regular season and entered the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) and NCAA Division 2 tournaments with complete confidence.

Their quarter final win over sixth seeded Catawba, 91-85, was the highlight of their SAC games. Senior forward Josh Dominguez led the bulldogs with 22 points and six assists, helping them win the game in overtime from a 13-point deficit.

At that point, the Bulldogs held a record of 20-9 overall and advanced to the SAC semifinals against the second-seeded Queens University Royals. In the SAC semi-finals, Wingate was eliminated from the competition by a crushing defeat to the Royals, losing 79-51.

The two teams faced each other again in the first round of the NCAA Southeast Regional tournament, where Wingate was the eighth-seeded team. Josh Dominguez led the Bulldogs with 27 points, a steal, and two blocks but they were unable to combat the Royals’ precise shooting (17 threes on 58.6 % shooting). The game concluded with a final score of 80-96, ending Wingate season at 20-11 overall.

Wingate’s women’s basketball team also had an outstanding season and were seeking to win another consecutive SAC title when they entered the tournament. Wingate opened the tournament with a victory against Lenoir-Rhyne, 56-46.

Junior Center Marta Miscenko got her 14th double-double, scoring 16 points and picking up 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Caroline Averette also scored doubled digits, snagging 15 points for Wingate.

The Wingate Women soared through the tournament and easily into the semi-finals grabbing a nail-biting victory from Catawba, 57-54. The finals were held in Mount Airy where Wingate wrapped up the tournament with swift victory.

Senior forward Kristina Rumplasch was the top scorer in the SAC final for a second year in a row with 21 points, leading her teammates to an 81-61 victory over the top-seeded Lincoln Memorial. With their ninth SAC championship title, Wingate’s record extended to 25-5 overall.

The Bulldogs entered the NCAA Division II tournament the second-seeded team and progressed through until the second round.  In the first round, they grabbed a huge victory against King University, 75-55, with five players scoring in the double digits.

Senior guard Shelby Tricoli scored a game-high 18 points, sinking four of four three point shots. The Bulldogs fell in the second round with an 85-66 defeat to Lincoln Memorial, ending their season at 26-6 overall.

Both head coaches felt their teams performed well and achieved far more than what was asked.  Head Coach Brian Good stated that the majority of the season was an uphill battle for the men’s team and he was impressed at how they all stepped up to their responsibilities.

His current focus for the team is scouting new players and improving their overall shooting percentage. “We could have easily just went away, not hang in there or be competitive but our guys really impressed me with how tough they were mentally and physically and found a way to get back in the mix of things and ultimately a NCAA bid after a 3-7 start is something they should be very proud of,” said Coach Good.

Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Ann Hancock, felt the season was successful and her players heightened their performance throughout the tournaments. Her focus for the team is training the new recruits and getting players to fill the responsibilities of the five seniors who will be leaving.

When referring to the five seniors who are graduating Coach Hancock said, “I’m happy for them because 26-6 and three rings is not a bad way to end your last season.  They won the championship their freshman, junior, and senior year. They were an outstanding group and lot fun to coach, so I was very pleased.”

Photo source Wingate University Athletics

Edited By: Brea Childs

European Connections in the Women’s Basketball team

Trey Lower, Staff Writer

Wingate University’s Lady Bulldogs are coming off an impressive 2016-17 season, which lead them to advance to the second round of the Southeast Regional.

Miscenko_Marta_01
Photo source Wingate University Athletics

While the season ended earlier than they would’ve wanted, there were many bright spots for the team. One of those was the addition of Marta Miscenko, from Riga, Latvia. But how did she end up playing basketball at Wingate, of all places?

“The assistant coach at UTEP was from Poland” Miscenko said. “I had practice in this big gym, and that’s where she saw me, in Latvia. She started asking my coach ‘how old is she’ when I was in the 8th grade or 9th grade” Miscenko said. “I ended up going [to the US] and graduating from high school, so I was there for my junior and senior year.”

The 6’4 Miscenko committed to play basketball at UTEP, but ultimately transferred to Wingate. The star center of the basketball team grew up in the Baltic nation of Latvia, a country known more for its love of hockey than its basketball. Yet, she ended up here, walking into Cuddy Arena for practice every afternoon with her teammates. However, basketball isn’t something she initially wanted to do.

“My best friend played basketball at that time, and I wasn’t really into sports. My mom started making me go to basketball practices, and that’s how I started”. The rest is history.

Miscenko was one of the key offensive weapons for the Lady Bulldogs this season, averaging 13.8 points per game, tied for the team lead. In addition, Miscenko averaged about 48% shooting during the season, with most of those coming inside the paint, her key area, and also averaging nearly ten rebounds and over two blocks per game.

Miscenko said the style of play is somewhat different in the US than it is in Europe. “The style of play is different. Over here, it’s more individually tendered. There’s usually one or two players that don’t necessarily take over the team, but are the most scoring [points] players” she said. “In Europe, it’s more of a team sport. There’s several players that score the points. Basketball is a team sport, so I like to play when there is a team effort, and it could be over there or over here,”  Miscenko said.

The Latvian was also quick to praise coach Ann Hancock.“She cares about all of the players, even after you’re done playing. She has such a good relationship with her players, it’s great. She’s your friend after basketball”.

When it comes to in-season, Miscenko also had words of admiration for the Wingate alum and current coach. “When it comes to basketball, she is willing to help you, work with you; at a D-I level, the coach should care about the players, whereas they didn’t when I played there [at UTEP], whereas over here Coach Hancock is like ‘we’ll do whatever it takes to make you better’”.

While Miscenko enjoys basketball, she’s not quite sure she sees herself playing after college. The junior has aspirations to be either a physical therapist or a chiropractor.

But for the time being, Wingate’s Lady Bulldogs will get to enjoy the talents of Marta Miscenko just a little while longer.

Edited by: Brea Childs

WU overtakes Catawba in overtime to win SAC quarterfinal thriller

 

Brandon Bowles, Staff Writer 

It is safe to say that Wednesday’s South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball tournament quarterfinals matchup between the third-seeded Bulldogs of Wingate University and the sixth-seeded Indians of Catawba College was not for the faint of heart.

The Bulldogs were able to come away with a hard-fought victory over the Indians in a 91-85 overtime thriller. This win brought the Bulldogs record to 20-9 overall (16-6 SAC). With this win the Bulldogs will face the second-seeded Royals of Queens University in the tournament semifinal matchup at 8 p.m. Saturday in Greenville, S.C.

With the loss Catawba finishes their season at 18-11 overall (12-10 SAC).

Wingate had four key contributors in Wednesday’s game. Josh Dominguez led the team with 22 points going 4-of-12 from the field (3-of-8 from three point range) and shot a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line. Isiah Cureton scored 21 and was a big asset on the defensive side of the ball collecting eight rebounds along with two blocked shots. Keith Griffin scored 15 points and was a key factor around the rim blocking six shots. Anthanee Doyle scored 17 points and was deadly from behind the three point line going 4-of-6

Catawba’s Jameel Taylor led the Indians with 23 points going 8-of-19 from the field, including  6-of-6 from the free-throw line.

Both teams began the game trading baskets with one another. Cureton would hit a three-point basket giving the Bulldogs a 16-13 lead at the 13-minute mark. Catawba would then push out to a 13 point lead with the aid of a 15-4 run in the late stages of the first half. Wingate would answer back with a few baskets of their own. By the end of the first half the Bulldogs trailed 41-30.

Knowing that their season was on the line the team went into the locker room and made some much needed adjustments. “There is no 11 point shot out there we just need to take one play at a time,”  said Wingate head coach Brian Good.      

Dominguez was able to cut the deficit to eight early in the second half. Catawba would maintain a comfortable digit lead for the first four minutes of the second half. Then the Bulldogs made numerous attempts to cut into the lead led by Dominguez, Griffin, Cureton and Doyle. Cureton would cut the deficit to three with a layup making the score 55-52 at the 9:50 mark.

Shortly after Catawba would gain a nine-point advantage with six minutes to go in the game. With a minute to go in the game Cureton was able to secure an offensive rebound off a missed free throw from Griffin kicking it out to Doyle for a three point basket that tied the game at 73 at the end of regulation.

“The team’s mindset changed going into overtime. It gave us that extra breath of life.” Cureton said after the game.

Key free-throws were made down the stretch by Dominguez and Cureton to assure a victory for the Bulldogs. With the help of Dominguez, Cureton, Griffin and Doyle the Bulldogs were able to make one final run to defeat the Indians and move on in the SAC tournament to face Queens.

“I knew our guys needed a blow, but I felt like we could not afford not having our best players on the floor.” Said coach Good after the game.

Look for Saturday’s game with Queens to be  very competitive, as the Royals look to avenge the two losses handed to them by the Bulldogs in the regular season. It’s the second straight year the two teams have met in the tournament semifinals, with the Bulldogs winning in Greenville last season.

 

 

Bulldogs top L-R to open SAC women’s basketball tournament

 

Maggie Smith, Staff Writer 

The Wingate Bulldogs beat the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears 56-46 at Cuddy Arena on Wednesday night to advance to the South Atlantic Conference women’s basketball semifinals.

Wingate has a 23-5 overall record, while Lenoir Rhyne ended their season with a 17-12 overall record.

Junior center Marta Miscenko had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Caroline Averette followed close behind,  adding 15 points for the Bulldogs. Senior guard Shelby Tricoli also contributed six points, and senior guard Amber Neely added added five points with a game-high of five assists as well.

Lenoir-Rhyne’s sophomore forward Madi Suddreth had 18 points, and senior forward Alecia Bell contributed 12 points.

A key player for the Bulldogs, Danasia Witherspoon,  was out with a knee injury.

The Bulldogs led the Bears 24-20 at the half. They were able to maintain a slight lead the whole game. L-R got as close as three points in the fourth quarter.

No. 3 seed Wingate will travel to Greenville, S.C. on Saturday to compete in the SAC Semifinals at 2 p.m. against seventh seed Catawba at Furman University. The Bulldogs are seeking a second consecutive SAC tournament championship.

Women’s basketball beats Carson-Newman on Senior Day at Cuddy

 

Cierra Smith, Staff Writer

Wingate University Women’s Basketball Team had the long-awaited rematch with the Carson-Newman Eagles, Saturday, February 18 after a win against the team that resulted in overtime back in early January.

The previous game that took place on January 7, at Carson-Newman left the bulldogs with a 80-75 point win, while the game this past Saturday yielded a score of 85-73, with Wingate once again landing on top. This marks the 10th straight win for the women’s team this season. This was the final regular season home-game for the team, as well as Senior Day for those graduating in May!

Wingate was led to a win by players, Marta Miscenko (14 points with 7-11 and 14 rebounds) and Kristina Rumplasch (14 points with 7-10 and 4 rebounds). Other key players include Danasia Witherspoon, who finished with 8 points and 9 total rebounds and Caroline Averette, who helped the women win by scoring 2-3, three-point shots and scoring 10 points overall.

With the game being as close as it was, there were also pivotal players on the opposingteam that also contributed to the momentum of the game. Carson-Newman’s, Mika Wester, was a key player for the team scoring 14 points and picking up 10 total rebounds, as well as teammate Haris Price, who added 12 points to the Eagles’ score with two key three-point shots that ended up breaking a small lead.

The game overall was fast-paced and full of energy with the arena being packed with hundreds of Bulldog friends and family in support not only for the women’s basketball team, but also their loved ones who will be going on to graduate in May! 

 

 Photo courtesy of Wingate University Athletics

 

 Edited by: Brea Childs

Grisillo makes transition from player to coach

Jackson Kaplan, Staff Writer

WINGATE, N.C.—-The newest face on the Wingate University women’s basketball bench is graduate assistant coach Katelyn Grisillo, who joined the Bulldog family and coaching staff late last summer. Grisillo joins the elite coaching duo of WU first year full-time assistant coach Celeste Stewart and fifth-year head coach Ann Hancock. Stewart knows a little about Grisillo’s role, as she served as the Bulldogs’ graduate assistant coach for the past two seasons.

katelyn-grisillo
Credit by Wingate Women’s Basketball

“I love it at Wingate,” Grisillo says. “Everyone has been super welcoming and it was not too tough of a transition coming from a similar school at USC Aiken. I really love the small town vibe where I feel like I am part of a family. The campus and facilities are beautiful as well, so it is a great place to be.”

Prior to the start of her coaching career, Grisillo was a women’s basketball student-athlete at the NCAA Division I and II levels. She began her collegiate playing career for the Division I Presbyterian College Blue Hose in Clinton, S.C., where Grisillo played in 26 games. She shot 42.9 percent from the field and posted her first career points, rebound and steal against the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Grisillo also scored a bucket against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Grisillo spent her final two collegiate campaigns at the University of South Carolina Aiken. In her junior season with the Pacers in 2014-15, she saw time in 17 contests while earning six starts. Grisillo posted a season-best seven points and grabbed five boards against the Carson-Newman University Eagles, while dishing out a career-high six assists against Livingstone College.

As a senior student-athlete during the 2015-16 campaign, Grisillo played in 26-of-26 games with 16 starts at the point guard position. She finished second on the Pacer charts with 46 total assists, tallying a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Grisillo dished out a season-high five assists versus Columbus State and posted a pair of steals against the Francis Marion Patriots.

Grisillo was also a terrific student off the court, graduating from USC Aiken with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and a Minor in Business Administration. She maintained a stellar 3.8 GPA while balancing her studies and athletics. Grisillo also found time to work in the USCA sports information office for Wingate alum and current Pacer SID Brent Hager (’02).

“Transitioning from a student-athlete to a coach has certainly given me a greater appreciation for my coaches in the past,” Grisillo says. “There are aspects of coaching I had no idea about as a player. I just needed to do my job on the court and everything else happened. It is amazing to see the number of hours coaches put in for their team. It is humbling to know they are willing to put in so much work for you.”

Grisillo’s specific WU coaching responsibilities include handling travel arrangements for away games, running study hall, maintaining and organizing the budget book, creating highlight tapes, supervising the team managers, making sure film is uploaded to Synergy and checking in with student-athletes on their performance in the classroom.

On game days, Grisillo is on the court with the team throughout warm-ups. During the course of each contest, she will sit on the bench keeping track of specialized data and giving in-game advice to each of the student-athletes, helping the individual and overall success of the team.

Grisillo wants to help insure the future success of the Bulldog program. “I love having the opportunity to talk with recruits on their visits,” Grisillo says. “I get the chance to discuss a shared passion for the game and the opportunity to help or guide them to the best of my ability.” Grisillo is thrilled for the unique chance to work with an All-American student-athlete and successful Division I head coach in Hancock, along with an accomplished Division I student-athlete in Stewart.

“On the court, Coach Hancock treats me just like an assistant coach,” Grisillo says. “I also get to help Coach Stewart with the post players, which is a unique experience getting to learn more about that area of the game as a point guard. It also helps me have a more well-rounded basketball IQ. I like to implement any ideas for specific drills or point out something to a player if needed. I enjoy being there to pick our student-athletes up if they make a mistake and get them excited as best I can.”

The Wingate Bulldogs are the defending South Atlantic Conference champions and seek to reclaim their conference crown in 2016-17, along with making a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. Grisillo joins a WU squad which returns four-of-five starters from the 2015-16 campaign and an experienced roster which only lost two seniors.

“I could not think of a better team with whom to begin my first year of coaching,” Grisillo says. “We are led by a great coach and I have the opportunity to come into a program that had already won the conference last season, which speaks volumes about this team and these student-athletes. This team is going to work really hard for all 40 minutes of each game…effort is never an issue.

The ‘Dogs were rated the pre-season favorites to win the SAC in the league’s 2016-17 pre-season poll voted on by the head women’s basketball coaches. The expectations are high for this season’s squad and Grisillo discussed her goals she wishes to achieve during her time at Wingate University.

“My main focus here at Wingate is to help the team be as successful as possible,” Grisillo says. “I also hope to make Coach Hancock’s job a little bit easier as well. I want to learn and grow from a very successful head coach at the Division I and II level who has also won a National Championship. I want to be there to support our student-athletes on and off the court, whether it is about basketball or life.”

Edited by: Brea Childs