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September 21, 2023

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Falcons display young team in exhibition win

Though the pieces may have changed, the game remains the same for the BG women’s basketball team.

The Falcons looked like a different team from the 2013-14 squad immediately as the starting lineup took the floor. BG returned just two of its starters from this past year with redshirt junior Erica Donovan and junior Miriam Justinger.

Joining them in the lineup were senior Jasmine Matthews, who came off the bench for the Falcons this past year, and sophomores Rachel Konieczki and Abby Siefker, who each averaged eight minutes last year.

Despite the new faces on the floor, the Falcons started its season the same way, with a dominant exhibition win. The Falcons defeated Division II Davis and Elkins 88-36 Friday night.

With all the talk about how different this year’s team will be, it was good to finally get back on the floor, Donovan said.

“It was different from last year, but I feel as a unit, we are connecting very well,” Donovan said. “It’s different not having Lex (Alexis Rogers), Jill (Stein) and Jillian (Halfhill), but I feel like as a whole, and with the first five, no matter who it is, we are all coming out wanting to play.”

Prior to the exhibition, the Falcons had two closed scrimmages in which head coach Jennifer Roos said she needed more from her team.

 “I didn’t think we competed real well the last time we played against another opponent,” Roos said. “We got outplayed … and then we came back and held another scrimmage because I wasn’t happy with where we were and then something clicked the last couple days.”

In Friday’s exhibition, Roos said she got the effort she needed from the team.

“It’s going to take all 12 kids and all five coaches to make this work this year and everybody’s got to give on every play,” she said. “We’ve got to turn our intangibles into tangible strengths as well. I think bringing that emotion and being supportive of each other are two intangibles that will have to provide a strength for us.”

The Falcons saw contributions from each of its 12 players on the roster. Donovan led with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Konieczki added 10 points and seven assists. Each member also saw a lot of minutes in the exhibition as Roos played the four freshmen [Rachel Myers, Sarah Baer, Haley Puk and Lauren Webb] together several times throughout the night. Puk led the freshmen with nine points. Baer and Webb each had seven and Myers rounded out the group with six points.

“We rolled the dice and threw them out there a lot together to see how they could do” Roos said. “[We] really mixed up some different combinations, trying a lot of different things right now and seeing what sticks on the wall with who is playing well with each other. “

With having six of the players being freshmen or coming off redshirt season for the Falcons, figuring out a lineup that gels is still the team’s focus.

“We’ve played less than nine weeks together,” Roos said. “We’re dealing with hours of playing together as opposed to years. Once we start playing longer together, I think the growth will come, but it’s going to be an inchworm process.”

With a young team, the Falcons struggled on both ends of the floor, especially early in the second half. In graduating 60-65 percent of the team’s scoring and rebounding, the Falcons will need to make up for that loss.

“I enjoy this team because I think they can all score at different times and they all have different strengths and weaknesses,” Roos said, “But, somebody is going to have to step up and contribute faster than what we did in that stretch where we only had three points in eight minutes.”

Though the Falcons built a lead insurmountable for Davis and Elkins, Roos said her team still has a lot to learn. But for now, the Falcons will take a two-day rest to gear up for what Roos calls an “aggressive prep” for the official start of the season Nov. 14 against Bucknell.

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