Friday, July 14, 2017
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said they are trying their best to adjust to the high level of competition the Bahamas is facing at the FIBA Women's CentroBasket Championships.
Coming off their 61-56 loss to Mexico the day before in UVI Arena in St Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, the Bahamas dropped a 64-48 decision to Jamaica on day two of the week-long tournament yesterday.
"We are trying to put it together, but with the youth and inexperience playing at this level, the adjustment of the physicality has been a challenge," said McPhee-McCuin, who is assisted by Donnie Culmer and Terrance 'Red Eye' McSweeney.
"We have not been able to put it together offensively, which dictates how we do defensively. But knowing that we are not playing that well offensively, we have to pick it up defensively."
Jamaica outscored the Bahamas in every quarter, including a 16-8 spurt in the third as they increased their 31-27 halftime lead to 47-35 going into the fourth.
In the first quarter, Jamaica led 16-15 and they went on a 17-13 run in the fourth to preserve the win.
"This is not our top team that we have over here. If we had that team, we would be in shape," McPhee-McCuin stated. "If we can get our top team together, I don't think anyone would be us in this tournament.
"But we have to play with a lot of inexperience so we have to get them to play hard and getting them used to playing at this level. So we're taking it one game at a time. As a coach, I'm trying to figure out ways to give them an opportunity to win, but we have to make shots and we have to defend."
Forward Leashja Grant led the way for the Bahamas with a double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. She played 30 minutes and shot 5-for-16 from the field and 2-for-3 from the free throw line.
Forward Pamela Bethel was the next highest scorer with nine points and three rebounds. Small forward Philicia Kelly had eight points and three rebounds and centre Shalonda Neely added six points with three rebounds.
Guard Diasti Delancy was the team's assist leader with four and Neely had a best of three steals.
Jamaica had four players in double figures. Both centre Yanique Gordan (10 rebounds, three steals, three blocks and two assists) and shooting guard Sasha Dixon (six rebounds and three steals) shared game high honours with 16 apiece. Forwards Shenneika Smith (seven rebounds) and Tarita Gordon (four rebounds and four assists) both added 10 points.
The Bahamas will be back in action today against the Virgin Islands at 7:30pm. They will play Puerto Rico on Saturday at 5:15pm and close out round robin play against Guatemala 3pm Sunday.
"It only gets tougher from here," McPhee-McCuin pointed out. "I feel like winning the game is great, but we need to find small victories, especially if these girls are going to be the future of women's basketball when the other ones are done playing."
So far, Grant is leading the Bahamas with an average of 20.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, while Delancy is dishing out 3.5 assists.
"In our first game, Leashja had 29 points, but in this game she only had 12 points, so the teams are paying attention to her," McPhee-McCuin said. "They know that she can play and so she will no longer get easy baskets like she did the first game.
"And as a veteran, Diasti is trying to provide the leadership, but as we continue to play, I'm just going to try to get them to continue to play hard and defend. If they can do those small things, we will get better as a team and hopefully we can start winning."