WEST POINT - The Army women’s basketball home opener was spoiled by visiting St. Francis on Monday night as the Terriers’ scored a 59-47 victory at West Point. Freshman point guard Kelsey Minato tallied a game-high 15 points, but poor team shooting and turnovers hamstrung the Black Knights during their first game on their newly renovated home court.
Army (1-1) shot just 25.8 percent from the field (16-62), including 21.1 percent in the sputtering second half. Army’s shooting clip was its lowest since March 5, 2011, when the Black Knights managed just a 23.2-percent showing at Bucknell. St. Francis (1-0) responded by shooting 42.6 percent (20-47) for the game, including an 11-of-24 clip in the second half.
Despite the lack of shooting accuracy, Army once against crashed the boards with determination, out-rebounding its opponent for the second-straight game. The Black Knights tallied 46 boards as sophomore Olivia Schretzman and freshman Aimee Oertner grabbed 10 apiece.
Oertner, Army’s leading scorer and rebounder in its season-opening win at Wagner last Friday, committed a pair of fouls within the first 5:30 of the game, causing her playing time to dwindle to six minutes in the first stanza and 13 in the second.
Minato, however, came out firing, hitting 4-of-6 attempts from beyond the arc through the first 20 minutes to enter intermission with a game-high 12 points. She finished the game 5-of-9 from three, to go along with three rebounds and three steals. The five made baskets from deep were the most by an Army player since Feb. 12, 2011. With 15 points against SFC, Minato has averaged 13.5 through her first two collegiate contests.
With 11 first-half turnovers and Oertner on the bench in foul trouble, Army trailed at the half for the second game in a row, this time by a 27-26 margin. For the game, the Black Knights committed 17 turnovers which St. Francis turned into 27 points.
The second half looked like Army was in for yet another back-and-forth battle as the lead changed four times within the first 3:19. Unfortunately for Army, once St. Francis grabbed the lead at 16:41, they would never relinquish it. The Black Knights got within two at 5:14 after junior Jen Hazlett sunk a pair of free throws, but the Terriers slowly swelled their lead back up until it maxed out at 12 at the final buzzer.
Army’s leading scorers from a year ago, Hazlett and All-Patriot League first teamer Anna Simmers, went a combined 5-of-29 from the field, while Army’s bench accounted for just five points.
"We got great looks, but we just couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn," said Army head coach Dave Magarity. "If it wasn’t for Kelsey Minato, quite frankly, we would have been out of the game at halftime. It hurt that Oertner got in foul trouble, we just didn’t have that presence inside."
"All the credit goes to St. Francis," Magarity continued. "John Thurston is an old-world friend of mine and I thought he did a great job tonight. They came out ready to play. They spread they floor, they made us defend them. They have good players."
St. Francis, which earned its first win in 11 tries against the Black Knights, was led by Eilidh Simpson, who totaled 14 points, six rebounds and three assists. Jaymee Veney was just shy of a double-double with 12 points and nine boards.
Army will play its third game in less than a week when the Black Knights look to rebound against Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday in Hackensack, NJ. Tipoff at the Rothman Center is slated for 5 p.m. The Knights enter the game with a 0-2 record.