Seton Hill women slowed it down to pick up 8 straight wins
After a dismal start to the college women's basketball season, coach Ferne Labati decided to make things simple at Seton Hill.
Then the Griffins rattled off eight consecutive victories before a 59-58 overtime loss to Fairmont State on Monday.
“In the beginning of the year, we put a tremendous amount of effort into correcting things from last year,” Labati said. “We didn't have a lot of sets (installed) at the first of the year, so we relied on our transition game. We played some good teams and at times they were able to take that away from us.”
That's when Labati changed her approach, running a more patient offense, and her players responded with an eight-game winning streak.
“We slowed it down to a degree,” she said. “Our primary goal is to score in transition, but prior to the eight wins, we didn't have the ability to get that done.”
Seton Hill's 0-4 start frustrated Labati, who is in her seventh year with the Griffins after a stellar run at Miami, where she ranks as the program's all-time winningest coach.
“The kids have improved so much on the quarter-court offense,” she said. “What happened at the start, that's not their fault. Our defense wasn't good last season and it continued this year. We had to learn to make better decisions.”
Senior forward Katie Gattuso has led the surge. In an 88-80 victory at home against Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday — Seton Hill's eighth win in a row — Gattuso produced another impressive performance, getting 21 points, 18 rebounds and six assists.
The 18 rebounds were the most in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this season.
Junior guard Paige Alviani added 21 points and had seven steals for Seton Hill. She was leading Seton Hill (8-5, 5-2 WVIAC) in scoring with an average of 15.8 points, while Gattuso was averaging a double-double (15.6 ppg., 11.7 rpg.).
“We're proud of the kids,” Labati said. “They looked at what they did in the past and where they wanted to go. They play very well together and they can adjust well to change.”
The chemistry at Seton Hill has helped fuel the Griffins' surge, Labati said.
She noticed that element during the team's trip to Puerto Rico in December, where it won a pair of games against Division II opponents.
“We had a wonderful time,” Labati said. “It was fantastic. And we won both games. That was a bonus.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.