By Julian Bell
The women’s basketball team played their final game of the season against the No. 1 seed Robert Morris on Mar. 5. The Knights, who finished the season (8-22, 6-12 NEC) fell to the Colonials 35-68.
FDU Head Coach Peter J. Cinella said that his team’s mentality needs to change.
“We have to become physically and mentally tougher,” Cinella said. “We have to improve our ability to shoot threepoint shots and we need to be more effective under the basket.”
The Knights played dominant basketball early on in the season. FDU swept LIU Brooklyn and stretched two of their games into overtime.
When it came to Robert Morris (22- 11, 14-4 NEC), Cinella concluded that the Colonials are on a different playing field. “They won 13 out 14 games,” Cinella said. “They are just at a different level than everyone else.”
Coach Cinella believes that his team could have pulled off more wins during the regular season. The Knights narrowly lost to Robert Morris in their first meeting 64-66. In the NEC conference, FDU fell to Mount St. Mary’s in overtime 71-75 on Feb. 18.
Coach Cinella said that these are games that have to be put away.
“We lost so many close games,” Cinella said. “There needs to be more consistency in the way we play as a team.”
Despite the Knights’ tough season, certain players have emerged in terms of raw athletic ability. Sophomore guard Madelynn Comly led her team in threepoint shooting with 40 three-pointers on the season. Comly also led FDU in steals with 42.
Junior forward Amina Markovic also progressed as a prominent player on Cinella’s team. Markovic averaged seven rebounds a game and acquired 195 for the season. She led FDU in rebounding and blocks with 29.
Coach Cinella noticed improvement in both Comly and Markovic’s ball playing.
“Markovic is most improved,” said Cinella. “She made all conference by averaging 10 points a game. Maddy Comly improved in overall rebounding and shooting.”
Last season, Comly made the All-Rookie Team and was named NEC Rookie of the Week during her freshman year.
Cinella’s team is relatively young and is still growing. As veteran players are set to graduate, younger athletes will have the opportunity to step up. Senior forward Brianna Thomas has concluded her fifth season with the Knights and has been a distinguished leader on the team. Thomas led FDU in overall scoring with 292 points on the season. She also finished with 33 steals and 31 assists to compliment her impressive resume.
Senior guards Kiana Brown and Zeynup Akgun have also made major contributions to the still developing basketball program. Brown, who just finished her fourth season with the Knights, put up 246 points with 88 assists and 43 steals. Akgun finished with 29 assists and seven steals in the last two seasons.
In the upcoming season, Cinella will rely on younger weapons to take over the team. Freshman Forward Courtney Blankenship put up 168 points in her first season with 42 assists, 30 steals, and seven blocks.
Lauren Francillon, also a freshman, shot for 132 points in her first year with the Knights. Next season, Madelynn Comly and Amina Markovic will likely pace the Knights next season.
Offensively, FDU averaged 59.3 pointsper-game and went .357 in field goals made this season. The Knights averaged 5.6 threepointers per game and went 26.7 percent in three point shooting. The team averaged 10.6 free throws a contest and shot at 67 percent on the season. 38 rebounds and 11.2 assists were also acquired on average.
Defensively, FDU made 75 blocks and 259 steals, and averaged about eight steals a game and two blocks.
As the Knights seek to advance further in the NEC Tournament next season, Coach Cinella has his eyes set on the ultimate goal.
Cinella said, “Our number one goal is to be an NEC playoff team.”