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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 25, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Selfless play on the court ignites Bomber offense

The women’s basketball team is keeping its opponents off-balance this season using a deceptive offense that minimizes contested shots.

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From left, senior guard Jessica Farley drives past University of Rochester junior forward Amy Wood and senior guard Michelle Ketcham. MICHELLE MONTGOMERY/THE ITHACAN

After several turns around the perimeter, senior guard Jessica Farley drives hard to the foul line, bringing two defenders with her, and delivers a bounce pass to sophomore forward Jennifer Escobido in the post.

When it looks as if Escobido is taking the shot, she delivers one more pass to wide open junior forward Devin Shea for the easy layup.

A possession like this has been fairly standard for the Bombers this season. The team’s pass-first attitude has been one of the biggest contributors to its 6–1 start.

Senior guard Jacqueline Shinall, who is averaging three assists per game, said the balanced scoring is a product of the team’s personnel.

“It’s not something that we necessarily emphasize in our offense,” she said. “It’s just that we have a lot of unselfish players on our team. Nobody cares who gets the credit. It’s more that somebody puts the ball in the basket.”

The team has four players who are averaging double-digit point totals per game, but still averages nearly 20 assists per game.

Head Coach Dan Raymond said the team’s high assists total results from a drive-and-kick style that creates holes in opposing defenses.

“We really emphasize trying to be aggressive to the basket first and foremost,” he said. “That forces the defense to collapse and worry about protecting the basket, and that, in turn, opens up our perimeter shooting.”

Raymond said his squad has been successful protecting the ball, which was a point of emphasis at the start of the season. The Blue and Gold have maintained an assist-turnover ratio of close to 2:1 for much of the season.

Many players on the team attribute the team’s offensive success so far to the inherent chemistry.

That familiarity between teammates is reflected in the dynamic between Shea and Escobido, each of whom look to create a much easier shot for the other forward on the court.

Shea said Escobido surprised her with perfectly timed passes in the team’s 67-49 victory against St. Lawrence University on Friday.

“I think you saw that a couple of times tonight where Jen sent a couple of passes, and I just happened to be there,” Shea said after Friday’s game. “But a lot of it is just being familiar with how each of us plays.”

More games and playing time should only make these bonds stronger for the South Hill squad once its Empire 8 schedule begins.

Freshman guard Ally Mnich said though the team has the highest scoring offense in the Empire 8 Conference, its best play has not been unleashed yet.

“I’d say we’re just starting, we’re not even near our peak yet,” Mnich said. “Just wait until the end of the season.”