Season opener results in overtime loss

Senior guard Taylin Underwood dribbles the ball in the season opener against Alcorn State University. She led the Lady Lions offense by scoring 35 points in the game.  Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion’s Roar

The Lady Lions basketball team opened their season with an 84-77 loss to Alcorn State University. The game went to overtime after the score was tied 72-72 during regular time.

“It was an exciting day, and we’ve been preparing for this,” said Head Coach Ayla Guzzardo but we have a long way to go. I think that we know that as a coaching staff. I think our girls saw that tonight. On the defensive end, giving out 84 points is never gonna work, especially this early on. That’s where we need to lock in and play defense.”

Alcorn State edged the Lady Lions 12-5 in overtime to secure a victory. Guzzardo pointed out the area the team needs to address after the loss.

“Defense, all the way,” said Guzzardo. “Doesn’t matter if we score as many points as we do, we have to hold teams to a lot less.”

Senior guard Taylin Underwood expressed how the team still has a lot of things to improve on.

“I think, obviously, we have a lot of things to work on,” said Underwood. “We fought pretty hard but, like I said, it was not enough. It was not just one play but ultimately, the defense definitely needs to be picked up.”

Underwood led the team in offense by scoring 35 points in the game. Guzzardo gave her assessment on Underwood’s effort during the game.

“Taylin’s gonna come offensively,” said Guzzardo. “She’s gonna score her points, but being a leader is lot more than scoring points. We need her to be a leader on defense as well. We need her to be a leader on the court. When adversity hits in, she’s got to step up, and I expect her to step up. That’s her role.”

Underwood explained that the team needs to come back from this loss and work hard during their training.

“Just not keep our heads down,” said Underwood. “This is one game, we want to fix it before but really just keep working hard. I can say that we didn’t go as hard as we should have before the game. So things that happen before the game need to be a little better because if you don’t do them before, how’re you going to translate it over?”

The team has recruited two players in Kania Lasker-Rouse and Jada Marone early in the season. Guzzardo described how these players would improve the program.

“As of now, we’ve signed two early,” said Guzzardo. “We should have one more signing within the next week. Very, very good recruits. Our program got better with those two signings, two guards from out of state. So we’re bringing some out of state talent. I’m sure Louisiana will welcome them with open arms. Point guard from Cleveland, Ohio and shooting guard from Little Rock, Arkansas, both extremely talented kids.”

Underwood also gave her thoughts on the recruits.

“I think that they’re gonna be great,” said Underwood. “I know of three of them so far, two guards and a post. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them, so they’re gonna be a really big help.”

Underwood then went on to express her appreciation for the fans who came in the season opener.

“It was awesome,” said Underwood. “I love when the fans are here. It definitely helped us play. I wish we could’ve gotten a win for them, but it’s definitely something to look forward to and play for.”

The team traveled to play against against Louisiana State University next in their first road game of the season. The team lost the game 84-56.

During the game, LSU forced 30 turnovers from the Lady Lions and outrebounded them 44-23. Underwood’s 18 points against LSU helped her climb up the university’s career scoring list to 13th place with 1094 points.

The Lady Lions will continue to play away from home as they travel to play University of Cincinnati Nov. 15 after which they compete in the 2017-18 Akron Classic.