Justin Maskulinski, Senior Staff Writer

 

The Miami University women’s basketball team ushered in a new era when head coach Cleve Wright was hired April 19. Nearly seven months later, the new-look RedHawks began competition with a 71-54 exhibition win against Seton Hill University.

The Griffins began the contest with a three-point bucket from redshirt junior guard Mallory Sanner, but the RedHawks answered with a 25-3 run that lasted nearly nine minutes.

Wright said the 25-6 lead made the Red and White too comfortable.

“We came out with good, strong energy,” Wright said. “We hit some shots, then we relaxed and were too quick to shoot.”

The Griffins, a Division-II school from Greensburg, Pa, answered the ‘Hawks run by closing the first half on a 24-10 run. The RedHawks led 35-30 at halftime, and outscored the Griffins 36-24 in the second half as they won their first contest of the year.

Freshman guard Jillian Spurlock led the RedHawks in scoring with 12 points. Spurlock also had five rebounds in her first collegiate contest.

“[Leading the team in scoring] is definitely cool as a freshman, but it’s not my top priority,” Spurlock said. “I have some things I have to work on.”

Junior guard Kindsay Brandt, who transferred from Cincinnati State College, finished her first game in Red and White with 10 points, four rebounds and a game-high six assists.

“[The team] has bonded, so it was like playing with my family,” Brandt said. “It didn’t feel like a new team.”

Brandt played took the ball out of the back court for the RedHawks in parts of the game. Junior guard Courtney Larson also played point guard for the RedHawks during Saturday’s exhibition. The role of point guard is wide open, as Miami’s all-time leading scorer Courtney Osborn graduated.

The RedHawks also graduated a 1,000-career point scorer and all-time leading rebounder in Kirsten Olowinski. Freshman forward Nicole Anderson and Larson led the RedHawks with six rebounds each Saturday. Three other RedHawks had five rebounds each.

Wright joked that the exhibition game, “just gives film.”

The RedHawks will have a six-day break before they officially kick off their 2013-14 campaign 7 p.m. Friday in Millet Hall against the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky University.

The Colonels finished last season with an 18-12 record, competing in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The ‘Hawks will play 11 non-conference games before opening Mid-American Conference play on Jan. 4 at home against Western Michigan University.

The RedHawks enter the 2013-14 campaign with some confidence after the exhibition win, and Wright said he hopes the team will become united throughout the season.

“My expectation is to build a team that trusts and cares for each other,” Wright said. “My expectation is that we will become closer [during the season], and get where we need to be at the end of the year.”

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