Coming into the second period the Bearcats led by 16 points and was seemingly on their way to sending their Atlantic 10 foe to their second loss at the hands of a Big East opponent. However, something in that second half changed the Bearcats. They did not play; they did not work; they did not fight to the degree they did in the first half – and coach Pirtle was not a happy camper.
"I saw it beginning to slip away," said Pirtle, who called a timeout at the 12-minute mark of the second half and let her team have it. "They didn't respond; they didn't listen. I could feel us starting to back off a bit, quit playing. When they got it to six points with about a minute left I was about to lose it."
Pirtle's dismay comes in light of a blowout victory over Eastern Illinois, 82-48 (the program's 500th win), in which she promised her team would not revert to the over-confident, "play when we want to play" mentality that killed them against crosstown rival Xavier.
Hoping that the 87-60 shellacking suffered at the hands of the Musketeers would serve as a much needed wakeup call for her young squad full of overachievers, Pirtle believed her team had crossed the threshold of maturity on the basketball court – but I guess they are still waiting to cross.
With the downside being what it may, the possibility that the Bearcats may still have some internal growing to do as basketball players, the very fact the could play a second half as poorly as they did and still walk away with a win against the likes of Fordham says a lot about the future of this team. While the character may not be there, the infamously used ‘potential' label certainly is.
The Rams, who play in the same A-10 Conference as the Musketeers, have played well against Big East foes this season, building a résumé that consists of two victories and a defeat against UC's new conference foes. While West Virginia (L – 83-39) is the only ‘real deal' in the trio of Ram opponents, teams such as Providence (W- 64-60) and Georgetown (W-68-62 (OT)) will be the must test games that will determine immediate success or failure of this season. As the saying goes, you have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat in order to be successful. For UC, that is what perennial bottom dwellers like Georgetown and Providence must be for the Bearcats.
In the first half, the Bearcats dominated from the jump. Tied at six early in the first half, the Bearcats went a 29-10 run that spanned just over 13 minutes. The first half saw the Bearcats utilize their press to the fullest degree. The Rams have never been pressed by a team to the full-out manner that the Bearcats did. It shook the Rams to the say the least. Fordham took just 16 first half shots, making seven, while committing 17 turnovers in the period that led to 19 Bearcat points.