Written by: Matthew Sokol, Campbell blog contributor
Postseason basketball has arrived in Buies Creek as the Fighting Camels (21-9, 13-5 BSC) will battle St. Francis (Pa.) (16-14, 13-5 NEC) tonight in the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational postseason tournament, the first-ever women’s basketball postseason game inside Gore Arena.
“We have another chance to compete in the postseason, and it is something to be proud of,” said senior Brianna Cribb. “I think everyone is just trying to get their mind right coming off three consecutive losses, and hopefully we just go out and play hard.”
The opportunity to keep the 2016-2017 season alive is something that head coach Ronny Fisher and the rest of his squad is excited about. An area vital for tonight’s success will remain centered around playing good defense for 40 minutes, according to Fisher, who pointed out that the Red Flash present an interesting matchup of strength vs. strength.
“The pairing is a really tough one as they can really score,” noted Fisher. “They scored 103 points on Wisconsin [back on Nov.13] so they are very good. We have to do a great job and our strength has been on defense all year so we have to do a good job of that.”
The Camels ranked first in the country in scoring defense this season (48.6 PPG allowed average) and want to maintain that stalwart effort against the high-scoring Red Flash, who rank 22nd overall in the NCAA averaging just over 75 points per game.
As one of the team’s leaders, Cribb has been preparing for moments like tonight throughout her entire career. The Fighting Camels focused on improving their performance on both sides of the floor during practice this week after the quarterfinal round loss last Friday in the Big South Conference Tournament against No. 7 seed UNC Asheville, the eventual tournament champions.
“We have been reiterating what Coach Fisher has been saying, and just pushing his sales pitch that we still can be good and do great things in this tournament,” said Cribb.
This Campbell squad has a lot of different factors to be focusing on during the game against St. Francis (Pa.) as the Red Flash rank second nationally making 10.6 threes per game while averaging 6.5 blocks per game; also the second-best mark in the country.
For Brianna Cribb and the Fighting Camels, the key to winning tonight’s game relies upon their ability to translate good defense into solid offensive possessions.
“I feel that if you can stop a team from scoring, and that you can put good numbers as well; you have a good chance to win the game,” said Cribb. “Our team has to focus more on offense, and make sure that we are executing our plays right.”We also have to take our time and not rush at a speed that they want to play at all night.”
The last time these two teams met was on New Year ’s Eve back in 1994 during a holiday tournament where the Red Flash came away with the victory on their home court. Tonight’s Women’s Basketball Invitational contest starts at 7 p.m. inside Gore Arena and fans can watch the action live on the Big South Network.