Oct. 27, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Penetrate and kick.
With depth -- and perhaps more importantly, confidence - at the point guard position, the Fayetteville State Lady Broncos made the most of their open look opportunities in their first scrimmage of the basketball season, cruising past Fort Bragg 65-54 on Thursday night.
The Lady Broncos, two years removed from winning the CIAA Championship and coming off a 6-win season in 2010-11, have infused several new faces into the program, perhaps none more dangerous than guard Ayskia Resper (Concord, N.C.), a sophomore transfer from Presbyterian College.
Resper was the beneficiary of several of those open looks created by the Lady Broncos' trio of point guards - returners Je'Lena Robertson (So., Houston, Texas) and Nia Trawick (So., Fayetteville, N.C.) along with Hampton transfer Bernadette Fortune (Hampton, Va.) - burying three deep 3-pointers as Fayetteville State used a pair of 12-2 runs to build as big as a 16-point lead in the first half before settling for a 34-22 edge at the break.
"We do have great depth at the point guard position, and Bernadette plays at a different speed than Je'Lena, so that allows our offense to have a couple of different looks," said Fayetteville State head coach Eva Patterson-Heath. "That makes us a little more versatile."
But it was a collective team effort, as the Lady Broncos used all 15 of their players in varying combinations as they worked out against a team other than themselves for the first time this preseason. Fayetteville State created points off turnovers in the open floor, handled full-court, man-to-man pressure, attacked gaps in Fort Bragg's zone and even looked comfortable from the foul line.
The passes were crisp, the decisions crisper as the Lady Broncos took care of the ball and created prime scoring opportunities on a high percentage of their offensive possessions.
"We have several Division1-1 transfers, and I think they've brought some of that to the team," Patterson-Heath said of the team's solid play and confidence. "We have a lot more experience throughout the roster."
Robertson, who led the CIAA in free throw percentage as a freshman last season, looked particularly comfortable orchestrating the offense, driving and dishing to open shooters or swishing long-range jumpers. Fayetteville State looked its best with both Robertson and Resper on the floor together.
The Lady Broncos continued the onslaught in the second half, taking a 49-32 lead on 6-foot-4 freshman Bria Robinson's (Belmont, N.C.) 10-foot jumper - which came after two offensive rebounds by the 5-5 Trawick. When Fort Bragg tried to make a second half run, Gilford Tech transfer Bria Wilkins (Jr., Greenville, N.C) buried two runners from the corner to keep the convincing lead intact.
Resper finished with four 3s and a team-high 14 points to go with two assists. DaQuondra Cuthbertson (Jr., Spencer), a transfer from Guilford Tech, had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds while Robertson added nine points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals. Tashama Banner (Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.), a transfer from UNC Greensboro, chipped in nine points, five rebounds and three steals for the Lady Broncos.
Of course, there is still plenty of work to be done before Fayetteville State tips off its season at home on Nov. 11 when it faces off with Barber-Scotia.
"We still have a long way to go," said Patterson-Heath. "There are a lot of things we still need to put in - out-of-bounds inbounds plays, sideline inbounds plays and even more offensive sets. And we need to work on our rebounding. But this was a nice start."