"It's huge," said head coach Jamelle Elliott about snapping the losing streak. "Now I can go home and feel good we have a win. It was a long, long stretch without success. I thought we were in all of the game except Indy game. We came out flat as a pancake. That was the first game I felt we came out and wasn't prepared."
During a 15-5 run to end the first half, eight of the team's points came off fast breaks. The second half was simply a matter of a more physical team wearing down a team that is playing their fourth game in five days.
"We've been up at the half in most of our games," said senior Bjonee Reaves. "We really focused on zero in. When we really focus and buckle down, we are a really good defensive team. I thought we did a really good job of staying focused."
Elliott agreed that the focus was getting better, but admitted there are four things that the Bearcats need to get corrected before the BIG EAST season starts. Those four things – dribble penetration, boxing out, playing defense without fouling and transition defense – will dictate how successful the team will be in 2012.
Getting healthy has also helped the Cincinnati cause. Jeanise Randolph, a 2010-11 All-Big East Freshman teamer, played in her first game of the season, while guard Dayessha Hollins returned after missing the two previous games with an injury. Neither player was particularly stellar offensively, but the minutes they were able to provide were imperative.
The overall health of the team will also allow Cincinnati to play the way Elliott wants to, and fans were able to see a glimpse of the attacking style as the second half opened.
"In the second half we were able to trap some of their ball screens and get some quick steals for easy baskets," said Elliott. "Now that we are getting healthy, I hope to be able to get to pressing and trapping more."
Randolph's return gives an undersized Cincinnati team another option on the block as the Bearcats really only feature two power players. She finished with four points on 2-of-2 shooting with three rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 13 minutes of action.
"It feels great (to be back) and I am really excited," said Randolph. "I try to think about the injury. I am going to play hard and long as I can."
Senior Chanel Chisolm and sophomore Kayla Cook carried the bulk of the scoring load for the ‘Cats with Chisolm leading the way with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting with 10 rebounds and five assists. Cook added 14 points, while Tiffany Turner recorded 13 points and six boards.