The road is where the wins are
Pipers beat Knights 75-50 to push road record to 3-1 as home record sits at 1-3 with loss to St. Thomas.
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Home court has not been kind to the Pipers thus far in the 2016-17 season. Their home schedule hasn’t been kind either, seeing the Pipers face two top-five MIAC teams according to this year’s preseason coaches poll in St. Thomas and Bethel. Thus, the Pipers find themselves 1-3 in the confines of Hutton Arena.
“We’ve had a pretty hard schedule so far,” sophomore guard Alaina Quaranta said. “I think it’s great that we have had to work that hard and it will help us to prepare for the future and just push us even harder in practice to protect the gym.”
Hamline’s most recent home loss was a 32-80 drubbing at the hands of St. Thomas last Wednesday, Dec. 7. The Pipers combined to shoot just 20.4 percent from the floor and 26.7 percent from behind the three-point arc. No player broke seven points on the score sheet, and the Pipers combined for 22 turnovers.
“We need to be a little more confident with some of our shots,” Head Coach Kerri Stockwell said. “We got some good looks but we have to knock some of those down and we gave up way too many transition points on the defensive end.”
In a game where not a lot went right for the Pipers, there were still some good points. Hamline shot better behind the three-point arc than the Tommies did, making 26.7 percent of their shots to St. Thomas’ 25 percent. The Pipers also managed to force 13 turnovers, including four off the MIAC’s leading scorer, senior center Kaitlin Langer.
“I thought our team defense really improved last night,” first-year forward Reilly Geistfeld said. “We played really well for how good of players [St. Thomas] has. We just had troubles scoring.”
The Pipers haven’t done much in the way of half-measures so far this season. Of their four losses, their smallest margin of defeat was seven, and on average, their losses have been by nearly 30 points. Their margins of victory are nearly as large. With 10 points as their smallest victory and averaging 23-point margins of victory, the Pipers have obviously been playing well in their victories.
“It’s fun but frustrating to play in the MIAC,” Geistfeld said. “I like it because the best is here and it’s more fun to compete against challenging people. It’s frustrating because everyone is really good and we can’t slack off.”
After their loss to the Tommies at home, the Pipers went on the road to Carleton and played the kind of mistake-free, confidence-building basketball Stockwell was looking for.
“Our win over Carleton was a fun one because no matter how hectic things became we always slowed down and played our game,” Quaranta said. “When we do that, we really showcase how strongly and selflessly this team can play.”
Junior forward Ivannie Robertson had ten points and ten rebounds for a double-double, senior guard Tia Diggins missed a double-double of her own by one rebound as she collected 15 points and nine rebounds, and Quaranta led all scorers with 16 points as the Pipers defeated the Knights 75-50.
“Everyone in our league is tough,” Stockwell said. “We just had to focus on us and emphasize a few focal points on offense and defense.”
The Pipers completely locked down Bethel’s offense, allowing just one three-point shot in 17 attempts and 34.6 percent shooting overall. They caused 18 turnovers, scored 20 of their points off those turnovers and got 16 points from their bench to finish off the Knights.
“We really take pride during practice on perfecting our defense and our last game showed that,” Quaranta said. “I think if we keep focused on staying tough and disciplined on defense going forward that it will make our offense even better and our team will be able to show just how dangerous we really are.”
Allowing just 21 points after halftime while scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter alone, the Pipers played to their biggest win in the MIAC since the 2014-15 season, when they beat Carleton 92-67.
“We do have players that can score, so we’ll continue to nudge and get better,” Stockwell said. “We have talent, we just need to put it all together.”
The Pipers have a break and come back for a two-day swing down to Iowa for a tournament against Wartburg, Washington (MO), and UW-Lacrosse. Game times can be found on the team’s website.