Game Preview: Siena Women vs. Mercer In WBI Semifinal


2014-2015 womens team

With the 2014-2015 college basketball season winding down, the Siena women are the last one standing of the MAAC’s women’s teams as they play host to Mercer in the Women’s Basketball Invitational Semifinals on Wednesday night. Tip off at the Alumni Recreation Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The No. 3 seeded Saints (21-12) advanced to the semifinal with a 53-46 win over No. 6 Stony Brook in the opening round and a convincing 69-49 win over No. 2 seed Xavier of the Big East on Sunday in the quarterfinals.

After winning just 9 total games all of last year, the Saints were picked to finish 10th in the 11 team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Now with 21 wins so far, their 12-win improvement ties them with Southern Illinois and East Tennessee State for the best improvement nationally.

Siena is led in scoring by senior Tehresa Coles and freshman Margot Hetzke who enter Wednesday’s matchup averaging 13.3 and 13.2 points per game respectively.

Coles was named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-MAAC Second Team selection. Her 300 career steals ranks highest in Siena history and 4th most nationally amongst active players. She is one of just 4 players in MAAC history to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 steals and 250 assists. She is tied for second on her team in rebounding with 5.0 per contest.

“It’s just been a season full of excitement and feeding off of every single day and every opportunity that we’ve  been given,” said Coles. “It’s been a lot of hard work but we’ve been making stuff happen.”

Hetzke leads Siena in rebounding with 7.5 rebounds per game. She was chosen unanimously as the MAAC Rookie of the Year and was selected to the All-MAAC Third Team. She ranks 7th in the MAAC in scoring and 4th in rebounding.

“Being here right now is unreal,” said Hetzke. “We’re kinda the surprising team. Every single day it’s like oh, and that happened and we got past that obstacle. The other day one of the girls got sick after the game and Coach was like alright, well that’s good news. That’s a new obstacle and we do pretty well with them. It’s great to be part of this.”

“To have T and Ida have this be their senior year, the first three weren’t perfect but to finish with this kinda thing is just awesome, such a blessing,” Hetzke said.

Sophomore Meghan Donohue also averages in double figures with 10.2 points per game. She is tied for 2nd on the team in rebounding with 5.0 boards per contest and ranks second in the MAAC in field goal percentage with 50.5% shooting.

Senior Ida Krogh is finishing the final stretch of her career in strong fashion. Suffering through recurring foot issues through much of the early part of her career, Krogh has spent her final season giving her all on the court as she has now logged more minutes (1,141) than any other MAAC player this year. She is averaging 11.0 points the last 5 games and has dished out 5 assists or more in 14 of the last 21 games. Her 150 assists this season is the most by a Saint in 17 years.

Playing in their 34th game of the season is a new program record and March 25th is the latest the Saints have ever played in a season. They have done this with just 7 active players for most of the season, all of whom average over 20 minutes per game. Still, the Saints are energized more that ever to finish strong.

“We call it the T word, tired,” explains Coles. “It’s not supposed to be in our vocabulary. It’s a mental thing honestly. As long as we stick together and we keep encouraging and pushing each other, it’s not even a factor for us I feel like. One thing for us is we want to keep generating energy vocally and off of plays. Even the players who can’t play are loud, they’re cheering. We have a really enthusiastic, animated bench. We really just feed off of each other. That energy really helps.”

All season long, the Saints have embraced the theme of,”Instead of saying ‘Why Me’ when things get tough, (we) say ‘Try Me’.

“Every single day before we bring it in in practice, after team meetings, before games, every single day it’s been a part of our routine,” said Coles. “It’s just something that says, who cares that we have 7 players? We just keep going. Why not? Why not make something amazing out of what we’ve been given?”

If the Saints were to win versus Mercer on Wednesday night, they would advance to the WBI Final on Sunday where they would face either Louisiana or Oral Roberts. If Siena plays Louisiana they would head to Lafayette and if Oral Roberts is the opponent, Siena would host the game at the ARC. Siena has never faced any of the three remaining teams in the WBI.

“Now more than ever we have a greater drive to win,” said Hetzke. The will to win is there.”

“We’re so close and we’ve worked so hard,” said Coles. “We’ve had such great results and it’s working. We’re going to just keep going and keep pushing and hopefully we get the win in the end.”

RPI Rankings; Siena 168, Mercer 194.

No. 4 Mercer comes in to the semifinal matchup with the Saints with a record of 20-14 marking their second 20-win campaign and second WBI appearance in the last three seasons. They advanced with an 83-68 win over No. 5 Troy in the first round and a 73-71 decision over No. 8 Marshall on Sunday.

The Bears are led by 5-6 senior guard and Southern Conference Player of the Year, Precious Bridges who leads Mercer with 20.6 points per game. She has tallied  20 20-point games and 32 double-figure scoring games this season. Bridges scored 35 points in the win over Marshall.

Kahlia Lawrence, a 5-8 freshman guard and Southern Conference Freshman of the Year is averaging 13.7 points per game. She has recorded double-figures in 28 of Mercer’s games.

Alicia Williams, a 5-10 senior forward, rounds out the double-figure scorers with 10.9 points per game.

Teanna Robinson, a 6-5 senior center, leads the Bears with 8.4 rebounds per game, and is averaging 5 offensive rebounds a game, to tie for first nationally.

Mercer has shot 40.3 percent from the field, and has connected on 72.9 percent of its attempts from the free throw line. The Bears are also outrebounding opponents, 40.8-37.2, and have a +2.6 turnover margin.

“They’re extremely athletic,’ said Jaques. “They’re in a conference that I coached in, Coach Mac coached in, it’s a very athletic conference dominated by Chattanooga. They’re a very competitive team. They are senior dominated. They have the Player of the Year on their team. They have the Rookie of the Year on their team. They have a 6-5 center. They want to get up and down. For us it’s got to be a controlled pace type of game. We have to trust what’s gotten us here. We have to be US.”

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