By John Bernstein
Though they watched intently, most who were on hand to watch Melissa Alwardt and UR take on New York University this past Friday probably didn’t understand precisely what was taking place on the Coles Sports Center floor.
Everyone saw Alwardt, UR’s star senior guard and leading scorer, pour on the field goals. They saw her draw constant fouls from a wary Violets squad — one eager to keep the ball out of Alwardt’s hands by any means — only to stand helplessly on the perimeter as she made them pay with an endless rain of free throws, each one dead on.
What these fans may not have known, however, was that Alwardt was breaking down several records with her stunning performance. Besides putting up a career high 28 points and leading all scorers in the game, Alwardt broke the 28-year old school record for foul shots made, hitting a jaw-dropping fifteen in just as many attempts.
Perhaps even more impressively, Alwardt tied another UR record — points in a half — with 25. The amount equaled her previous career high for points in a game.
Alwardt’s hot streak came just in time to breathe new life into a cold-as-ice UR shooting effort. The Yellowjackets found themselves in a 46-22 hole at halftime, hitting just 8 of 25 (32 percent) from the field, and with little hope of even making their University Athletic Association rival sweat.
“NYU hit a lot of shots in the first half and it got us down because we weren’t hitting ours,” Alwardt said. “We knew it was possible to come back in the second half because we had the talent; it was just bringing the energy that was the question.”
Whatever energy Alwardt was speaking of was clearly present in the second half. A peeved and poised group of Yellowjackets came back fighting at the half’s start with a 14-4 run to cut the deficit to 12. Alwardt was not alone in this endeavor, as sophomore guard Kristyn Wright and junior forward Madeline Korber, who added ten points apiece, chipped in to a comeback that brought the yellow and blue to within nine points of NYU on several occasions.
Despite the renewed motivation the Yellowjackets showed in the second half, the end result was no doubt a disappointment, as the Yellowjackets fell 82-69 off a run of 14 free throws by the Violets.
If nothing else, UR took from their loss to the Violets the realization that a focused effort through not just one, but both halves will be essential in the coming months, during which the UAA crown remains very much up for grabs, as do numerous postseason berths.
“We just have to continue to play together and push each other at practice,” Alwardt said. “We have the talent to win, we just need to keep the energy up for 40 minutes.”
Bernstein is a member of
the class of 2014.