Richalyn Miller, Campus Carrier Staff Reporter
Both the Lady Vikings (10-9, 3-5) and Vikings (3-16, 0-8) basketball teams faced a pair of losses last weekend when they played at home in the Cage Athletic Center on Friday and Sunday.
The losses came against Southern Athletic Association (SAA) opponents: the Birmingham-Southern College Panthers and the Millsaps College Majors.
Junior guard Mel McLean shot seven three-pointers against the Lady Panthers. McLean ended the game with 27 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
Birmingham-Southern kept the game close through the first half, even tying the game at 46-46 right at halftime.
In the second half, the Lady Panthers improved on defense and took the lead while keeping the Lady Vikings from scoring until a two-pointer by junior center Emma Cook put the Lady Vikings on top by three points. Cook brought the score to 86-89 with 2:23 left in the game. Those would be the last points scored by the Lady Vikings as the Lady Panthers won 94-89.
On Sunday, the Lady Vikings returned to the court to face Millsaps.
Head coach Stephanie Dunn said the Lady Vikings found it hard to find their rhythm and they were having trouble getting shots to go down.
The Lady Vikings also found themselves in foul trouble; Millsaps had a first half total of three while the Lady Vikings had 10.
“We really got behind and dug a hole early in the game,” Dunn said. “We really weren’t stopping them on the defensive end.”
Coming out in the second half, Dunn says she challenged the team to be more competitive and play harder.
Coming out of halftime, the Lady Vikings stepped up their defense, grabbing more rebounds and coring points.
Junior guard Chanlir Segarra was one of the reasons for the rally with her game high of 27 points and perfect shooting (10-10) from the free-throw line.
They outscored the Lady Majors 31-19 in the second half, but it was not enough, as the Lady Majors won 56-51.
“I think the team has been playing very well,” Segarra said. “Those last two were games we definitely should’ve won. We’ve done some things that now we’ve looked at on film, and we know that we need to fix those.”
Senior forward Megan Walsh seemed to struggle in the two games against Birmingham-Southern and Millsaps, coming off of her 24-point performance against Centre.
“For me, this past weekend was a flop,” Walsh said. “I couldn’t get out of the funk I was in, but I made a point to be more encouraging for my team instead of hindering them with the way I was performing.”
Against the Lady Panthers, Walsh had a total of 11 points, three rebounds, two blocks and one assist. In the game against Millsaps, Walsh did not score but was able to grab three rebounds.
“My goal is to refocus, especially trying to hone in on offensive rebounds and being aggressive,” Walsh said. “I think if I focus on one thing and excel at it, I’m not only making my teammates better by leading by example, but it will carry over in the game and I can contribute positively in that way.”
Both Segarra and Walsh said they credit Dunn when it comes to motivation.
“She reminds us of how close we are. We are not getting bothered by the numbers but focusing little by little on digging out of the hole we’re in,” Walsh said.
The Lady Vikings will travel on the road to face the Sewanee, The University of the South Tigers on Friday at 7 p.m.
The Vikings have continued to struggle this season, but some of the players say that they see there has been improvement in their intensity and competitiveness.
On Friday night, the Vikings played Birmingham-Southern.
Senior guard Hunter Smoak started the game making stops, followed by sophomore forward Owen Jacobs. Their playing on defense allowed them to be successful on the offensive side. With 10:46 left in the first half, the Vikings found themselves tied with the Panthers 16-16.
By halftime, the Vikings found themselves down by 14 points. Both Jacobs and Smoak led the team with 12 points in the first half. The Vikings were also shooting 50 percent from the field, just a little under the Panthers’ 51 percent.
In the second half, the Vikings began to fight back. They were able to score from the field as well as at the free throw line. But for every shot they made, the Panthers continued to make their shots as well, winning the game 87-71.
Smoak had 22 points, four steals and two rebounds on the game. Jacobs was close behind, posting 20 points, four rebounds, one block and one steal.
On Sunday afternoon against Millsaps, the Vikings came out much like they had against the Panthers.
Jacobs grabbed a couple of quick rebounds and scored two points to bring the Vikings within two with an early score of nine to seven. Forty seconds later, he would give the Vikings its first lead.
The Majors started pulling away with the lead and were up at halftime 43-35. Millsaps continued that play early into the second half but at 12:28 left in the game, the Vikings went on a 9-0 run, pulling within seven points.
Later, a free throw by senior guard Mac Whalen would put the Vikings within one.
Whalen grabbed the rebound and found Jacobs for the layup to take the lead 63-62 with 3:32 left in the game.
The Vikings would only get to score eight more points as the Majors made defensive stops, winning the game 74-70.
Head coach Jeff Rogers said that, with the losses, he continues to see the team improving.
“What our guys are still trying to figure out is how to play with great effort while at the same time being able to execute in certain situations in the game, and we’ve had stretches where one of those things have been there,” Rogers said. “We have to get to the point where we’re doing both at the same time.”
Rogers said that even though it’s hard to see the record, the team tries not to focus on that so much and that, for them, it’s all about taking it one day at a time.
“From day one, it’s been about going out and getting better every day, and that’s been our focus,” Rogers said
“The record has been frustrating, but we try not to get hung up on that. What has impressed me most is their resilience. We’ve been in a lot of situations where it would’ve been easier for them to give up, and most of those games, we’re getting back into them and making them more competitive.”