Women’s basketball drops two

After a surprising 2-0 start to the season, the women’s basketball team looked to continue their early season success as they faced Stony Brook and South Florida at the Civic Center.

But the Braves couldn’t continue that success as they fell to Stony Brook 83-79 and to South Florida 87-63.

During Friday night’s matchup against Stony Brook, the Braves took the short drive over to the Civic Center for the first time since 2004 to play a home game as part of a doubleheader with the men’s team.

Coach Michael Brooks was disappointed and displeased with the turnout after the men’s game and expected a lot more from basketball fans in Peoria.

“It was a mass exodus after the men’s game,” Brooks said. “I thought Peoria was a basketball town, but obviously, it is just a men’s basketball town.”

In both contests, the Braves could not maintain early success and eventually gave up leads. In Sunday’s game against South Florida the Braves stayed in the game early on in the first half, but eventually faced a 35-point deficit at one point in the second half.

Brooks said the team needs more fight if they want to be a better team this season and knows that it will take a team effort to get that done.

“We need to work a lot harder and buy in more,” Brooks said. “We have to find a little more heart in order to be an above average team.”

Junior guard and Missouri Valley Conference leading scorer Michelle Young led the Braves in both games, but in the game against South Florida, Young picked up two early fouls and only finished with a team high 12 points.

Senior guard Catie O’Leary finished close to a double-double, tallying nine points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Young said she knows this team has what it takes and that they will continue to push on through as a tougher team.

“I think we do play with heart and passion, but it needs to be consistent and we haven’t been consistent with our play,” Young said. “We need to be mentally strong and keep playing hard.”

The Braves play their next five out of six games on the road, beginning Nov. 21 against Northern Illinois.