Experienced lineup to guide St. Vincent women’s team | TribLIVE.com
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Every season, St. Vincent women’s basketball coach Jimmy Petruska said, he and his staff adjust their strategies according to the turnover on the roster.

This season, Petruska won’t have to change much. The Bearcats return eight of their top 10 scorers from last season’s squad that went 19-10 overall and 14-4 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

“We have a nice core group coming back from last year’s team. … Overall, I like where we’re at as a team,” Petruska said. “Last year, there were some unknowns. We lost three starters and a lot of our scoring from the previous season, so I wasn’t quite sure where we were going to be at last year. This year, it’s more defined roles for everybody, without question.”

The continuity from last season is especially important, Petruska said, because of the complex offensive system the Bearcats employ — an emphasis on spacing the floor with numerous guards on the court simultaneously.

“We like to play very fast on both sides of the ball, and we demand a lot from our players,” Petruska said. “So it’s important, I look for our rotation to be 10 to 12 players strong.”

Graduate student Taylor Mathers, a 6-foot-2 forward, appears to be the key piece for the offense. Mathers, now in her third season with the program, earned first-team all-conference honors last season after leading the Bearcats in scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 per game).

“She’s doing a great job of being a leader on the court,” Petruska said. “She’s probably one of the fastest 6-2 forwards that I’ve seen across the country. She plays at a high level, she’s in shape, her cardio is very good and she can run the court.”

Petruska described senior guard Ally Schmidt as a leader and said she is the team’s defensive stopper because of her instincts and her ability to anticipate. Offensively, junior guard Jill Kegg will be depended upon to stretch the court with her 3-point shooting. Sophomores Jasmine Weems and Maria Benvenuti will add to the flexibility in the lineup, with both being able to push the tempo.

St. Vincent tipped off its season at Tuesday at home against Penn State-Altoona.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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