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Jaye Haynes' breakout game leads La Salle past Rider

11/13/2021, 4:15pm EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

When Mountain MacGillivray recruited Jaye Haynes to La Salle, the Explorers’ coach was hoping for someone who could fill up the box score.

The Germantown Academy grad scored more than 1,400 points in her four years with the Patriots, earning herself all sorts of accolades during her senior year in Fort Washington, including Inter-Ac MVP and first-team all-state. She had a quiet freshman season at 20th and Olney, averaging just over three points for the Explorers, but MacGillivray knew there was plenty more to come.

Jaye Haynes (above) set a new career best with 19 points in a win over Rider on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Two games into the 2021-22 season, it certainly looks like Haynes has taken the next big step in her progression. The 5-foot-8 guard scored 13 points in the season opener against Coppin State and then followed that up with easily the best game of her young college career, scoring 19 points as the Explorers held off Rider for a 67-58 overtime win on Saturday afternoon.

Haynes was La Salle’s most effective scorer on a day when the Explorers struggled from the floor, going 6-of-10 overall, 2-4 from 3-point range and 5-6 from the foul line, with five rebounds and two assists against just one turnover in 34 minutes of action. 

“I think (I’m) feeling a lot more comfortable, knowing everything I’m supposed to do now, having my teammates to pick me up whenever I make mistakes,” she said. “Just feeling more comfortable this year.”

“We brought Jaye here to do just that,” MacGillivray said, “to be a basket-producer and a two-way player, defending on the other end. I loved what we got from her last year, and this is the natural progression in year two.”

Haynes comes from a basketball family. Her dad, Jonathan Haynes, played at Villanova from 1992-95, averaging 10.5 ppg in 84 career games (79 starts) for head coach Steve Lappas.

MacGillivray joked that Haynes’ positive outings meant less having to watch film with her dad afterwards, but that’s clearly a part of the job that Haynes enjoys.

“He points out stuff that I don’t see on the court and I think that helps a lot,” she said. “Especially coming when I have to work on everything, just knowing that I could get a different shot off and practicing where I could get that shot off.”

Haynes (above) is the daughter of former Villanova standout Jonathan Haynes. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Haynes’ emergence as a double-digit scoring option is critical for a team that relied heavily on the production of senior Kayla Spruill (15.0 ppg in 2020-21) and junior Claire Jacobs (16.3 ppg) last year, and needed someone to step up to take some pressure off the pair. More of a traditional guard than the pair of 6-0 wings, Haynes has the ability to create her own shot from the mid-range and get to the rim, skills she showed plenty of against Rider.

Spruill underwent a similar breakthrough as a sophomore, upping her scoring average from 5.2 ppg to 11.0 ppg between her first and second seasons in college. 

“It’s kind of different circumstances,” said Spruill, who was coming off two ACL tears in high school, “but I feel the natural progression of what we were brought here to do and us being able to fulfill it is the same.”

Spruill continued her strong start to the season after a 16-point, 17-rebound effort against Coppin State, coming up with 16 points, 14 rebounds and five steals against Rider, though she did commit seven turnovers.

The Explorers looked like they wouldn’t have much trouble with the Broncs out of the gate, rushing out to a 20-10 lead after one quarter and holding a 38-20 advantage at the midway point. But the hosts went ice-cold from the floor in the second half, scoring a grand total of 12 points in the following 20 minutes as the Broncs closed the gap with a 16-0 run in the third quarter.

La Salle stayed stout defensively, however, forcing 21 Broncs turnovers and holding their guests to 20-of-56 (35.7%) from the floor, including 2-of-15 (13.3%) from 3-point range. 

Kayla Spruill (above) added 16 points and 14 rebounds for her second double-double in two games. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“We really could have folded up the tent, shooting as poorly as we did,” MacGillivray said. “As long as I’ve been coaching this game, players find it hard to play defense and be gritty when it’s just not going for you on the offensive end, and I thought they found a way to do that, and I’m really pleased.”

Haynes and the Explorers found their shot again in the extra session, getting 3-pointers from Jordon Lewis, Amy Jacobs and then Haynes, the last of which put La Salle up 59-52 with 3:19 left in the extra session. Two more Haynes foul shots with two minutes left extended the cushion to nine, and two more just before the end provided the game’s final points.

“She made a big jump, I think, physically in the offseason,” MacGillivray said. “I think she trained really hard, came back here really physically prepared. Every freshman struggles with the newness of any system that you go in, and she’s got a year under her belt and she just looks really comfortable knowing what we’re doing. 

“Doesn’t stop us from fussing at her,” he added with a laugh, “but she’s doing a really great job.”

Though La Salle evened its record with Saturday’s win, there’s still plenty to work on as they prepare for a trip to defending CAA champs Drexel (1-1) on Wednesday night. The Explorers committed 20 turnovers of their own against Rider after giving it up 17 times in the season opener, shooting only 30% (21-of-70) from the floor, including a 4-of-31 (12.9%) mark in the second half.

“When you play at the pace we try to play at, sometimes, early in the season, there’s going to be turnovers,” MacGillivray said. “We’ll certainly adjust and the first thing I looked at was the margin. We were plus-two, we still forced more than we committed, so I’ll live with that.”

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