Pace men’s basketball end 5-game losing streak as the women drop a fourth in a row

Amine Kassaoui, Feature Editor

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Pace University basketball teams split a pair of games at Saint Anselm College on Tuesday night, with the men victorious and the women thwarted.

The men’s win ends a five-game losing streak, while the women have dropped four in a row and seven of their last eight. The Setter men improve to 15-8 overall (7-8 NE10), as the women fell to 8-14 (5-10 NE10).

In a crucial Northeast-10 Conference matchup that saw both teams come in with identical 5-9 NE10 records, the Pace women’s squad lost to the Hawks, 74-64.

Saint Anselm raced out to a 40-26 first half lead, displaying dazzling ball movement leading to quality shots in the first 20 minutes of action. The Hawks shot an efficient 63% from the field in the first half, while holding the Setters to a paltry 32%. Pace only led for one minute and thirty-four seconds of game time, early in the first quarter.

The Setters played much better in the second half, outscoring the Hawks by four points and cutting their deficit to just eight points with five minutes left in the fourth period. However Saint Anselm would not be denied from sweeping the season-series versus Pace, keeping the Blue & Gold at bay the rest of the way. The Hawks also defeated the Setters, 61-37, on Nov. 22, in Pleasantville.

Graduate student Lauren Hackett led the way for Pace with 14 points and four assists. Sophomore Tower Lorde was the team’s leading rebounder with nine boards. For Saint Anselm it was once again junior Gabby Turco steering the ship. The New Jerseyan scored 21 points, her third consecutive 20+-point performance, and 11th on the season. Turco also sank all five of her free throws and has netted 114 of her 125 attempts this season.

After winning last season’s NCAA Division II East Regional and appearing in the Elite Eight, it’s easy to pinpoint the reason for Pace’s decline this season. The Setters have been unable to replace program legend Lauren Schetter’s incredible production. The Blue & Gold came into the contest shooting just 34% in their last seven games, and only 66% from the charity stipe.

The Pace men obliterated Saint Anselm for the second time this season, 77-56, after taking the first meeting on Nov. 22, 74-47.

The Setters were dominant from the opening tip, outscoring the Hawks in the initial half 37-25, and never looked back from there, leading by as many as 26 points in the second half to finally end what had been a tumultuous five-game losing skid.

Bryan Powell was a menace on the court for Pace, converting 9-of-10 shots for 24 points, to go along with six rebounds, four assists, and one block. Twin brother Brandon led the team on the glass with 12 rebounds.

The Northeast-10 Conference Championships format will be altered for the third straight postseason. This year, all 13 teams will qualify for the playoffs, with the top three squads earning a first-round bye, guaranteeing both Pace teams a playoff spot despite the rough patch they had been going through.