Redhawks restart with new coaches

By on November 26, 2018

Both Roberts Wesleyan basketball programs are being led by new head coaches this season, but that hasn’t stalled their start as they swept Mansfield 77-57 in women’s and 89-71 in men’s.

Freshman Dimitra Gkizani from Athens, Greece registered a double-double with 12 points and ten rebounds while juniors Emily Miller and Tashayla Sutorius each had a team-best 16 points to pace the women.

The Redhawks trailed for a millisecond early in the game and allowed the Mounties to close to within one point in the second quarter, but an 11-0 run to close the first half secured the lead for good.

Miller hit a reverse lay-up and a jumper with two free throws while Taryn Wilson had two field goals and Sutorius added three free throws during the late run.

The lead became as many as 26 points as Wilson hit one of her two treys four minutes into the second half, but Mansfield wasn’t able to get much closer as the Redhawks registered their third consecutive victory after two opening losses.

“We really started to tighten things up in practice and we’re all starting to get the hang of what coach Cliff (head coach Kevin Clifford) wants us to do and what we can do for coach Cliff, so it’s been working really well,” Miller commented.

“One of my goals is to average a double-double. I feel I can be aggressive enough to get ten rebounds. If I don’t, there are other aspects on the court that I can help the team.”

“I’ve been here about two months now, a couple games and about 20 practices, so I think they are buying in and I’m learning them as they are learning us,” new head coach Kevin Clifford said. “The first two games was a good learning curve for us and now the last three games we’ve been sharing the ball better and running our style and executing. We’re holding teams to under 60-points and we’re putting up some points, so that is a good recipe.”

Gkizani finished with 12 points and ten rebounds while Miller just missed her fifth consecutive double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Sutorius added a team-high seven assists to her 16 points while Wilson finished with 12 points. Taylor Bynoe chipped in with eight rebounds and five steals.

The Redhawks men trailed through the early stages of the first half before taking their first lead on consecutive drives by Armon Nasseri. Jean Toussaint hit a pair of field goals late in the first half as Roberts led by four at halftime.

Mansfield came back to retake the lead briefly about seven minutes into the second half, but a trey and jumper on consecutive possessions from Churchville-Chili grad Isaiah Lewis gave the Redhawks the lead for good.

After the Mounties again closed to within one point of the lead late in the game, freshman Fope Okuyiga took over scoring 11 of his 13 total points over the final four minutes of the game as Roberts sealed the win with an 18-1 run to end their third win.

“That’s the most important time, the second half is when I had to play,” Okuyiga said. “That’s when we needed the run and we got it. I played a couple of minutes in the first half and started out slow, but came in the second half with energy and it’s the win that matters.

“We’ve been here before and the guys responded,” interim head coach Mark Saladzius said. “We went small at the end to make it a little easier on the ball screens and we stopped them toward the end.

“We actually have eight new guys this year and seven returning, so it’s taken a little bit of time. They are still kind of figuring things out and still seeing different lineups, so right now we’re liking where we’re at and we’ll see where it goes.”

Senior Justin Vaughan led all scorers with 28 points and was tops on the Redhawks with eight rebounds while Okuyiga had 13 points, senior Peyton McLaurin 12 with six assists, Lewis 11 points and Toussaint ten.

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