Young teams tend to struggle at the collegiate level. The tempo is faster and the competition is better than in high school.
For Lycoming College, those struggles continue to show their ugly heads as Alvernia beat the Warriors, 60-50, on Wednesday night in Lycoming's conference opener.
The Warriors (0-4, 0-1 Commonwealth Conference) committed 25 turnovers and those bad passes and mental mistakes led to 22 Alvernia points.
"It's very difficult, and some of those aren't young kids," said Lycoming head coach Chris Ditzler. "They are upperclassmen and that's what we have to take care of and we need the upperclassmen to lead the young kids."
Some of the Warriors' struggles come from starting two freshmen and two sophomores, with senior guard Rachel Scheller as the only upperclassmen in the starting lineup.
"I think with the freshmen it takes a little while to adjust to the college game and the tempo," Ditzler said. "I don't care what kind of program you come from in high school, college is a whole different ball of wax and they are still learning to make adjustments."
First-year guard Shannon Wheeler didn't always look like a freshman for the Warriors, showing the willingness to attack the basket and the ability to survey the court like a veteran point guard.
With just under 17 minutes to play in the first half, Wheeler came away with the ball under her own basket and went coast-to-coast for a 3-point play. And while it won't show up in the box score as anything other than a completed 3-point play, Wheeler ran the floor well, never putting her head down.
The first-year guard surveyed the court for the length of the play, looking for the quick outlet pass or cutting player before deciding to attack the defender and draw the foul.
"For a freshman - and I've put a lot of pressure on her because she is handling the ball - she does a great job," said Ditzler. "She does a great job and she has a great future ahead of her. She is a very good shooter, too, she just hasn't shown it yet."
For the Crusaders (3-1, 1-0), the game plan was simple: Get the ball to Stevie Fortna. The freshman guard scored a game-high 21 points - 15 in the first half - and made 5 of 6 shots from behind the 3-point arc.
And with Fortna leading the way, Alvernia built a 12-point lead at halftime that the Warriors would never overcome.
"She was the difference in the game in the first half," said Alvernia head coach Kevin Calabria. "But we didn't get her the ball in the second half and we have to be able to get her more shots."
While limiting Fortna in the second half, the Warriors made a late comeback, cutting what was once a 20-point Crusaders' lead to just six points with just under five minutes to play.
The second-half surge came with offensive rebounds - the Warriors had 20 total - and second-chance points.
"That was a point of emphasis for us. That we need to hit the offensive and defensive boards and we did," said Ditzler, whose team finished with 16 second-chance points.
The offensive rebounds and second-chance points couldn't finish off the comeback, though, as the Warriors were plagued by poor shooting. Lycoming shot just 30 percent and made just six free throws.
"We can't continue to shoot like this and expect to win basketball games," Ditzler said. "Our shooting has been horrendous and I don't really know why. Our shot selection isn't what it should be. We need to go back to the drawing board."
ALVERNIA (2-1, 0-0 CC)
Stevie Fortna 8-12 0-1 21; Brittany Young 4-13 2-3 10; Kaitlyn Yoh 3-12 2-4 8; Kayla Long 2-8 4-4 8; Chelsea Ebersole 2-15 0-0 5; Kelsey Wolf 2-4 0-0 4; Jess Poole 1-1 0-0 2; Mya Lobb 1-2 0-0 2; Katelyn Gill 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-68 8-12 60.
LYCOMING (0-3, 0-0 CC)
Julia Antonelli 4-7 1-2 9; Ali Derr 4-7 0-0 8; Kat Andriani 3-7 0-1 7; Kylee Sutton 3-6 1-3 7; Shanley Harlacker 2-6 0-0 6; Rachael Scheller 1-10 2-2 5; Shannon Wheeler 1-8 2-5 4; Leeann Randall 1-2 0-0 2; Taylor Ford 1-7 0-0 2; Victoria Kowalski 0-3 0-0 0; Victoria Siebecker 0-1 0-0 0; Olivia Manges 0-1 0-0 0; Janelle Ziminski 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-66 6-13 50.
Halftime - Alvernia 36-24. 3-point goals--Alvernia 6-19 (Fortna 5-6; Ebersole 1-12; Young 0-1), Lycoming 4-21 (Harlacker 2-4; Scheller 1-8; Andriani 1-1; Wheeler 0-3; Randall 0-1; Ford 0-1; Kowalski 0-1; Manges 0-1; Ziminski 0-1). Fouled out-- None. Rebounds--Alvernia 43 (Long 11), Lycoming 55 (Antonelli 10). Assists--Alvernia 14 (Yoh 4), Lycoming 14 (Scheller 7). Total fouls--Alvernia 12, Lycoming 15. Technical fouls--None.