Oakland women lose to IPFW, fall to third place in Summit League

By Jake Thielen

With second place in the Summit League standings on the line, the Oakland University women’s basketball team lost its shooting touch at the worst possible time.

The Grizzlies (16-9, 10-4) fell behind early and never recovered as they fell to IPFW, 70-55, Saturday afternoon.

Oakland shot just 31 percent from the field in the first half and shot just over 34 percent for the game, while the Mastodons (17-6, 11-3) seemingly couldn’t miss. IPFW shot 54 percent from the field, including 8-of-17 from three-point range.

“They shot a great percentage and we couldn’t get stops,” Oakland coach Beckie Francis said. “We’re a great defensive team, so I give them a lot of credit.”

Francis said that the Mastodons’ experience, and the Grizzlies’ lack of it, was a major factor in the game’s final outcome.

“IPFW is a really good team — it’s a veteran team,” Francis said. “They have five starters back, and they were fired up to try to get a win on our court.”

“That’s an experienced team, and we’re a younger team. We sometimes have three freshmen on the floor, and it takes a while for a team to get confidence if you don’t hit a couple shots.”

Sophomore forward Bethany Watterworth scored 17 points for Oakland, while freshman guard Zakiya Minifee added eight points and eight rebounds.

Watterworth said the key for the Grizzlies moving forward is  simply to get their confidence back.

“We’re a great team, and we got a big weekend next weekend with the Dakotas coming in,” Watterworth said. “We just need to get after it in practice and work on the little things defensively.”

Senior guard Jordan Zuppe led the way for the Mastodons with 23 points, including 6-of-8 from three-point range, while junior forward Stephanie Rosado added 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

Watterworth often drew the tough task of guarding Rosado in the low post.

“(Rosado) had a good game, and their team just hit shots,” Watterworth said. “They shot over 50 percent for the game, so it’s tough to win when the other team is making half their shots.”

Despite falling into third place in the Summit League, Francis said she wasn’t concerned.

“We’re just going to improve and win games one by one,” Francis said. “We don’t care who we play. (We play) Saturday and next Monday, then we get our seed,  then we win three in a row and that’s our goal. When we’ve gone to the NCAA Tournament we’ve been a (No.) 3 seed and a (No.) 6 seed and we’ve still been in the tournament.”

The Grizzlies’ next game will be Saturday, Feb. 19, at home against South Dakota State University.