Flagler women’s basketball team rings in 2018 with fifth straight Peach Belt Conference win

Rayven Wade may have a future selling valuable property.


The Flagler College forward’s knack for locating space in the high post and facilitating opportunities for her teammates was once again proven to be an invaluable asset. She not only led the Saints in scoring, but her passing opened up avenues for the rest of the team to exploit in Wednesday evening’s 81-58 win over Augusta University in a women’s basketball game at Flagler Gymnasium.

Flagler (7-2, 5-0) continued its best start to Peach Belt Conference play courtesy of a dominant third quarter.

“We want to get entry passes in there. Once the ball goes there, we tell our posts ‘catch and face the basket,’” Flagler women’s coach Erika Lang-Montgomery explained. “Either they are going to have something or they can look down on their buddy on the low block. For whatever reason, we had a lot of openings in the high post and we were able to knock down shots there, which helped open things up in the second half.”

Flagler center Tabitha Odabe made seven of her eight shots and Tiffany Hodge contributed nine points and eight rebounds from the low post.

Flagler shot 54.2 percent from the field and held the Peach Belt’s best 3-point shooting team to 3 of 16 from distance. Augusta (3-6, 1-4) entered the game making 40.3 percent of its 3-pointers, but was nowhere close to that against the Saints.

“We tried to get the ball inside. Our movement was stagnant,” said Augusta coach Millette Green. “Our guards have to get up for shots. We have to get good screens and get the ball inside and out. (We didn’t) get enough post touches tonight.”

The 81 points were the most the Saints scored in a regulation PBC contest since February 2016 — a stretch of 28 games.

Flagler’s advantage at the half was only 37-32 because the Saints committed 12 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Augusta was plus-12 in points off turnovers, which mitigated Flagler’s 57.1 shooting percentage in the first half.

All season the Saints have struggled with sluggish second-half starts as opponents have outscored them 149-144 in the third quarter. Wednesday was the exception as Flagler outscored the Jaguars 24-8 in the third quarter.

“We told them at halftime, ‘We want to make a statement. We want to come out aggressive, attack and don’t let up,’” Lang-Montgomery said.

Augusta made just three of 17 shots in the third quarter as Flagler extended its advantage. The Saints assisted seven of their 11 field goals in the quarter, cut down the turnovers and took high-percentage shots.

Flagler point guard Alex Alford said the second half was evidence that the Saints can continue to extend leads. At points in the season, the senior from Clearwater said Flagler would take an 8- or 10-point lead only to allow its opponents back in the game.

“We stayed focused and we played like we were the ones who were down,” Alford said.

Alford made her second straight start and once again made the most of her opportunity finishing with five points, six assists and even a block in 28 minutes.

“If she’s going to switch, make it worth her while,” Alford said. “Play like I was coming off the bench. It shouldn’t change how I play — hard, smart and being a leader on the court.”

Earlier in the season, Lang-Montgomery quipped that the success of the school’s volleyball and women’s soccer teams meant a standard had been set for women’s programs on campus. Wednesday’s win marked the first time Flagler has won five straight Peach Belt Conference games.

The win was marred by Wade being helped off the court with four minutes remaining in the game as she cut toward the basket. She pulled up and appeared to need attention for an injury on her left leg. To that point, she had 20 points, four rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes. Lang-Montgomery said they will know more about Wade’s status today.

Flagler will have its sternest test of the season Saturday when it travels to face Lander (10-2, 5-1). The Bearcats are known for their press defense, and Alford said Wednesday’s win over Augusta was a good preparation for that showdown.

“The press that they gave us — even though it wasn’t that hard of a press — we saw it and know what’s coming,” Alford said.