by BRYAN EVERSON
While many were navigating the hazardous conditions Friday night, Rochester still had trouble finding shelter indoors.
In a battle of Falcons, Rochester struggled and fell to Ford, 62-31, in a game that was much closer at halftime.
“We’ve got to learn how to play a full 32 minutes,” Rochester coach Adam Sheldon said. “We’re taking steps and we’re a young team. They’re a very experienced team with eight seniors. Against a team like that, they’re not going to make the mistakes we’re trying to fix.”
Judging solely by the first quarter, Rochester (0-4) looked every bit an equal of its MAC competition. Paola Barazza hit a pair of 3-pointers that allowed her team to trail by just one after the opening eight minutes. Although Rochester trailed by just 10 at halftime, the cracks began to show in the second quarter as the host Falcons lost possession of the ball and gave up uncontested baskets in the paint too frequently.
Sheldon said he was surprised by Ford’s (4-1) press, the first team that has deployed it on his team this season.
“I thought we did a pretty good job handling the pressure honestly since we haven’t seen it,” he said. “We try to replicate stuff like that in practice, but a group [like theirs] that’s played together this long is a fine-tuned machine at this point.”
The machine really started to crank in coming out of the half, when Ford forced a handful of turnovers as part of a 17-3 run where its experience and quick decisions were on display.
“I told the girls at halftime that the first two minutes of the third quarter they’re going to try and throw a knockout punch, and they did and we let it happen,” Sheldon said. “Moving forward, we’ve been through it and we’ve got to learn from it. ”
For a young group with six or seven girls who entered the year without varsity experience, Sheldon said he still feels good — he called Friday’s first half “by far the best we’ve played back-to-back quarters” — and that the issues are all correctable. One area that will still needs some work is the rebounding.
“When you’re not super tall and don’t have a lot of size or length, you gotta be strong,” he said. “We talk about how you’ve got to get a body on someone, and we can’t get into a jumping match with teams because a lot of times we’re not going to be the largest team in the gym. Defensively, we’ve got to do work before the ball gets to the girl.”
“A lot of times they were able to throw it down into the paint at will because we weren’t pressuring the ball and our bigs weren’t doing the work to deny it. That’s why it’s a team game, right? It’s a trust thing, but we’ll get there.”
Offensively, he said the issue is making shots, not getting a sufficient amount of attempts.
“The other night we shot 27 percent from the floor,” Sheldon said. “We shot 45 shots, we just didn’t hit them. The other thing that kills us is that we make it hard on ourselves because we don’t get to the rim enough. We’re settling for jumpers, and I think it’s hesitation, playing afraid of getting your shot blocked. The aggressive team usually gets fouls, gets to the free-throw line and dictates the tempo of the game.”
Still, he sees some silver linings, particularly in several underclassmen.
“Both [sophomore] Emily Morrow and freshman Jordan Banks, it’s been a pleasant surprise how quick they’ve caught on,” Sheldon said. “I don’t think you’d know they’re a freshman or sophomore by the way they play. For Emily, it’s just her second game back and she’s already worked her way back into starting.”
Tori Hawkins ended up leading the way for Rochester with eight points, and Jenna Norgrove followed with seven.
The captors of the Falcon Cup were paced by 15 points from Carly Schwarz and 13 from Julia Cianferra, a duo that combined for 10 of Ford’s steals.
As part of the Rochester Basketball Holiday Classic, Stoney Creek will visit on Dec. 23 for the Falcons’ next game at 1 p.m.
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