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Fast start helps Lady Knights hold off Molloy, 61-56

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Fourteen minutes into the game, Queens had a 31-11 lead and looked well on their way to a blowout win in its New York Collegiate Athletic Conference opener at Quealy Gymnasium.

But the game of college basketball is 40 minutes long and for the next 26 minutes, the Lady Knights looked more like the inexperienced bunch that has struggled in the NYCAC as they barely held on for a 61-56 win.

"Within the offense we move the ball well and work it inside and we did great," Ingenito said. "But they put a little more pressure on us and we weren't patient enough to set up the offense. We were just rushing the ball up court and firing off threes. Good teams are able to handle pressure and then set up the offense."

Rakova, a 6-foot-2 senior center, led the way for Queens (1-3, 1-0 NYCAC) with a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out in the game's final minute. For her effort, she named NYCAC Player of the Week. But the native of Bishek, Kyrgyztan had six turnovers. The rest of the team followed suit as Queens had no answer for Molloy's press, turning the ball over 33 times, 20 in the second half,

"We should have taken better care of the ball," Rakova said. "We need to discipline ourselves better. We should have kept playing like we did in the first half. We could be so much better, we just have to discipline ourselves."

Missing three starters to injury didn't help matters either. Starting point guard Anica Gant was out with a fractured finger, forward Jill Kraft had lower back pain and power forward April Gross had a rotator cuff injury. Also 6-foot-3 freshman Theresa Williams, who was expected to help underneath the basket, may have to red-shirt after tearing her ACL.

"Anica is a very good point guard, if she was in we wouldn't have worried about [the press] that much," Rakova said. "When we get those players back, we'll be much better."

The Lady Knights came out on fire, quickly jumping out to an 8-0 lead. Alanna LeGall scored on a putback, Rakova put the ball in from the left blocks, then hit a foul line jumper, Theresa Dollard and Rakova each hit one free throw apiece before Molloy finally got on the board when Colleen Dwyer, who scored a team-high 17 points, converted an old-fashioned three-point play.

For the next 10 minutes, Queens played a great inside-outside game. Junior Antonette Tirone nailed a three from the left wing, Rakova hit two free throws, Tirone knocked down another trey, as did Erin Dollard, Theresa's younger sister, from the top of the key, freshman Kerri Graham scored from the left blocks and Rakova hit a foul line jumper to put the Lady Knights ahead, 23-9 with 9:29 left in the half.

"It's just basic basketball," Rakova said. "Get it in, get it out and shoot the ball."

But Molloy (0-6, 0-2) fought their way back and went on a 10-0 run, capped by a three-pointer by Michelle Martini from the top of the key to cut their deficit to 10, 31-21 with 3:57 left. Queens went into the break ahead, 36-28.

The Lions got as close as six, 53-47, on two free throws by Martini, but couldn't get any closer, as Queens held on to win its first game of the year. Theresa Dollard and Tirone each had nine points for Queens, while Martini had 15 points and St. Francis Prep grad and freshman guard Liz Fryer had 11 points and six steals for Molloy.

Queens takes on NYCAC foe Southampton Saturday in their home opener in the front end of a doubleheader. Tip-off at Fitzgerald Gymnasium is at 5:30 p.m.

Southampton 55, Queens 51. Rakova had 15 points and a career-high 17 boards and Erin Dollard added 17 points for the Lady Knights in the loss.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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