LAKELAND, Fla. – In a game where the Fire had a tough time establishing offensive rhythm, the No. 3 Southeastern University women’s basketball team turned in another stifling defensive performance, defeating the Thomas University Night Hawks 62-38. This marked the fifth time in program history the Fire have held a Sun Conference opponent to under 40 points.
“I feel like we just needed to get that first game after break out of the way…Being the top shooting team in the country, we rarely miss the open shots we get, and tonight we just were a little out of rhythm,” shared head coach Tim Hays.
The Night Hawks set a methodical pace from the onset of the contest, using the vast majority of the shot clock on their early possessions. Thomas opened up the game with a 5-0 lead. However, the Fire rattled back with 14 unanswered points to close out the first quarter of play.
The Fire looked more comfortable offensively in the second quarter, shooting 50% from the field, and recorded their only period with multiple three pointers made.
Both of the SEU three-point field goals in the second quarter came from junior shooting guard Jaycee Coe, whose eight points in the quarter proved to be her most productive period of play.
The Fire closed out the final 8:33 of the first half on a 14-2 run to take a 31-12 lead into halftime. Senior guard Ana Richter scored 10 first half points, notching the seventh straight game where she has reached double-digits in the first half of action.
Taking care of the ball was a thorn in the side of the Night Hawks throughout the game. The Fire forced 21 Thomas turnovers in the first half and 34 total. Nine of those turnovers came off the tenacious defensive play of Richter, who set a new season high with nine steals on the night.
“The great thing was seeing our defense continue to slow down and frustrate teams. Anytime you force a team into 34 turnovers, you are disrupting their ability to get any traction offensively,” commented Hays.
After being outscored by the Night Hawks 13-8 in the third quarter, the Fire responded with their best shooting performance of the game in the final period of play. SEU shot 58.8% from the field in the fourth quarter, growing its lead to as much as 27.
Richter led all scorers with 28 points, her 12th consecutive game with 22 or more points. Coe was the second highest scorer of the game with 17.
The Fire are back in action at The Furnace Saturday evening, as they host Coastal Georgia. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.