Pride women’s basketball had an impressive season last year, finishing with a 20-9 overall record. The women went into the NEWMAC tournament as the No. 2 seed but were upset by No.7 Clark University in the first round 66-54. The women then went on to the ECAC tournament, in which they made it to semifinals, but lost against Carnegie Mellon, 79-50. Last season the Pride were led by senior Ava Adamopoulos, who took on most of the scoring load averaging 14.9 points per game for the women. The Pride lost her as well as Danielle Racette (3.0 ppg), Molly McCausland (5.4 ppg), and Lexi Windwer (7.5 ppg) to graduation. Now with only one senior on the team, head coach Naomi Graves will have a lot on her plate with trying to get the inexperienced women to play together and confidently this season.
Players to Watch: Heather King
The Pride have only one senior on the team this season in forward Heather King, who was the second highest scorer on the team last season with 9.8 ppg. King will be looked to and leaned on by the younger players for leadership, as she is the only member of the team to have won a NEWMAC title. After losing last season’s leading scorer in Adamopoulos, King will have to be the Pride’s low post scorer and inside presence. King showed sparks of being able to be a dominant force inside last season, scoring 20 points at Clark last January. King is not alone however, as the Pride have a young star at guard in Alex Goslin. Last year as a freshman, Goslin played in all 29 games for the Pride while starting in two; she averaged 6.4 points 2.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and a team best 1.1 steals per game. Goslin also showed that she is not afraid of the big moment by having her highest scoring outing come in the first round of the 2017 ECAC tournament, where she posted a career high 18 points against SUNY Cobleskill.
The Pride will be most effective and have the best shot at improving on their impressive run last year by leaning on the play of Heather King and Alex Goslin. Graves will also be important in guiding the women throughout the season. In her 27th year coaching and with six NEWMAC championships under her belt, the veteran coach should have no problem getting her players to play at a championship level. Graves is focusing on defense this year and one of the goals she has set is to hold every team under 50 points. It is good that Graves has already focused the team on defense rather than focusing on replacing the scoring that they have lost from last season, which takes the pressure off of a young team. If the women can start out with playing great defense, then it will lead to opportunities on offense. If Graves can tap into the potential of her team and get the women to play confidently, the Pride can make a deep run in the postseason.