ST. AUGUSTINE — The Flagler women’s basketball team had high expectations heading into the season.
Head coach Maurice Smith had some strong talent returning, including four seniors who are the top players on the team. The Saints opened the season with a dominant 96-74 win over University of Virginia Wise and looked like a team ready to make a deep playoff run.
Then, in the second game of the season, the team lost starting center N’Mya Pierce to a season-ending ACL injury. Later on, Flagler also lost sixth-woman of the year candidate Miracle Parker to the same injury.
“We’ve had to overcome a little adversity, and we needed some other players to step up,” Smith said. “It’s been a process getting those other players to step up, but credit to a few of the young ladies who had to, they have.”
One of those players has been second-leading scorer Jaziana Mathis, who said she had to become more of a vocal leader this year in order to help Flagler get to its current 9-6 record.
The Lady Saints have still been working on chemistry, forming an identity and consistency, Smith said. Their primary goal is to play 40 minutes on both ends of the floor.
The last few games have served as a microcosm of their struggle to play consistently, though.
Against University of South Carolina Aiken, the Saints weren’t their best defensively, allowing the Lady Pacers to score 87 points. They were, however, able to outscore them, Smith said.
Against Columbus State they only allowed 69 points but struggled offensively, often turning over the ball and not sharing it well, Smith added.
This last game against a tough Georgia Southwestern team, Flagler was down 19 points in the second half but was able to cut it to 10 before ultimately losing 73-63.
Overall, though, Smith has been pleased with his team’s progress. So has Flagler star Tori Pearce, whose confidence has not wavered.
“We have a goal to be the Peach Belt conference champs,” said Pearce, who averages 18.4 points and 6.2 assists per game. “We’re on track to do that.”
This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: Women's college basketball: Flagler is progressing despite injury bug