Tehresa Coles’ contributions to the Siena College women’s basketball team are much more important than simple numbers. She does all the little things necessary to help her team win, including a pat on the back or a quick remark to a frustrated teammate.
But that doesn’t mean the 5-foot-9 junior guard from Colonie doesn’t fill up the stat book. Usually, her numbers aren’t noticed individually, but they are pretty impressive when you add them all up.
Saturday afternoon, Coles didn’t have a monster offensive game, but she was all over the court with her customary frenzied defensive pressure, and she also grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds to help the Saints defeat Binghamton, 49-41, in a non-conference game at the Alumni Recreation Center.
The game featured a bobblehead giveaway of second-year head coach Ali Jaques, but it could have easily been Coles’ mug on the figurine. Despite early foul trouble, she scored nine points and added two assists, one block and two steals in 28 minutes. Her offensive production would have looked much better if she was able to perform a little better at the free-throw line, where she was only 3-for-8.
“This gets almost boring because I say this every game, but Tehresa had another great all-around game for us,” said Jaques. “She’s been terrific. She’s been a big part of our aggressive defense, and she brings it every game.”
Coles grabbed seven of her caroms off the offensive glass, and she was able to stay aggressive both on defense and off the boards despite getting two quick fouls that sent her to the bench with the Saints up, 18-13, with 8:19 left in the first half.
“I just try to go after the ball whenever I can,” said Coles. “I want to get the ball in our hands as much possible.”
Coles said the key for her is to remain focused, intense and aggressive with her ball-hawking, even if the calls go against her.
“Coach keeps telling me that I need to stay aggressive,” she said. “I can’t let the calls get to me. Sure, when I get a foul or two, it gets very frustrating, but I’ve got to stay positive and not let it change my game.”
Coles admitted that her offensive numbers are down a bit this year. As a sophomore, she produced 9.1 points a game and shot 78 percent from the line. She also drained 17 three-pointers and led the Saints in steals with 90.
So far this season, she is averaging 7.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists during a team-high 25.8 minutes per game. But she is shooting only 59.1 percent from the line, and before Saturday was just 2-for-11 from beyond the arc.
“My offensive numbers are a little down, but our team chemistry and depth is so good that I don’t necessarily have to score as much. If I’m not shooting well, someone else will step up,” she said.
“As far as my rebounding is concerned, I’m not the tallest player out there, but I have a lot of experience. I know where the ball is going to bounce, and I get a lot of long rebounds.”
She also uses her quickness and hustle to get to as many loose balls as possible. Her leadership and tenacity are two of the reasons why the youthful Saints are off to a solid 5-4 start.
Against the Bearcats the Saints forced 24 turnovers and allowed 1-10 Binghamton to shoot just 13-for-48 (27.1 percent) from the floor.
“We have really focused on our interior defense,” said Jaques. “Also, our ball pressure from our guards has helped us tremendously. Our defense allows us to control the game, even if we are turning the ball over. Today, we had only 16 turnovers.”
Although the Saints start three seniors — Clare Sola Anglada, Kanika Cummings and point guard Ciara Stewart — they get plenty of production from youngsters, as freshman Emia Willingham (Albany High School) leads the team in scoring at 8.3 ppg and freshman forward Meghan Donohue contributes 7.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Freshman Brianna Logan splits time at the point with Stewart. All three frosh have been named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rookie of the week this season.
But Coles is the glue that keeps the team together.
Although the Saints struggled offensively, shooting only 26.2 percent from the floor and 8-for-16 from the line, they got just enough scoring production to help their “Blizzard” defense.
Siena, which failed to capitalize on numerous open looks throughout the game and missed at least a dozen layups, pulled out to several 12-point leads in the second half, but couldn’t close the door until late in the game. Cummings led Siena with 13 points. Nine Saints scored.
Murphy 0-0 0-0 0, Barac 3-11 0-1 6, Newry 0-6 1-2 1, Jensen 1-3 0-0 3, Paulk 3-11 5-9 11, Swinson 4-12 2-2 10-, Albrecht 1-4 5-7 7, Surdokaite 1-1 0-0 3, Molina 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-48 13-21 41.
Sole Anglada 3-13 0-2 7, Donohue 2-5 0-0 4, Stewart 1-4 0-0 2, Cummings 4-8 2-2 13, Coles 2-9 3-8 9, Krogh 2-8 1-2 5, Logan 1-5 0-0 2, Willingham 1-5 2-2 4, Mullings 0-5 0-0 0, Booth 1-3 0-0 3. Totals: 17-65 8-16 49.
Halftime: Siena, 23-23. Three-point goals: Binghamton 2-10 (Barac 0-1, Newry 0-2, Jensen 1-3, Paulk 0-1, Swinson 0-1, Albrecht 0-1, Surdokaite 1-1); Siena 7-22 (Sole Anglada 1-4, Stewart 0-1, Cummings 3-4, Coles 2-5, Krogh 0-2, Logan 0-3, Booth 1-3). Rebounds: Binghamton 44 (Barac 12), Siena 49 (Coles 13). Assists: Binghamton 7 (Newry 2), Siena 12 (Stewart 3). Total fouls: Binghamton 15, Siena 20. Attendance: 390.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Bob Weiner at 395-3147 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BobWeiner58.