An uncharacteristically stagnant first half left the Springfield College Women’s Basketball team with only a 29-22 lead over Wheaton heading into the third quarter.
“We were not the team that had the 16 wins. We were playing sluggish. We were not closing out hard. I didn’t think we did a really good job on our defensive end in the first period,” said Pride head coach Naomi Graves.
The Lyons flustered junior Gracie Restituyo in the paint, holding her to five points on 1-8 shooting with six turnovers in the half.
“The first half performance she was pressing. I think she was just trying too hard. She was too wrapped up in the contact that was happening to her and the officiating,” said Graves.
Springfield’s offense was forcing shots, resulting in a field goal percentage of only 32.3, and Wheaton hit continuous threes (35.7 percent) to keep themselves in the game. Rebounding (26-14 advantage), and an eight-point, seven-rebound, three-steal, and two-assist first half performance from Heather King is why the Pride held a lead at the break.
The second half, however, Springfield flipped the switch and started playing like the team that currently tops the NEWMAC conference. The defensive intensity greatly increased, resulting in nine steals, most of them being turned into baskets on the other end. Restituyo finally locked in by starting the third quarter off with five straight points and an assist. This was the spark a 19-3 scoring run from Springfield that separated them from Wheaton by 23 points approaching the end of the quarter.
”In the third period, she settled back down and focused in on what she can do and what she does well,” said Graves.
During that stretch, Springfield shut down Wheaton’s perimeter shooting, as the Lyons went 0-4 from downtown and struggled to establish an inside presence.
“I just told our kids they have to spread out. We didn’t do anything fancy. I think it was an effort issue in the first and second period in terms of our kids closing out on shooters,” said Graves
The Pride also turned into a force in the paint, which opened up opportunities for outside shooting. From this point on, Springfield kept a comfortable lead and cruised their way to a 76-50 victory.
They saw four players score in double figures, with Restituyo at 12 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists. Alex Goslin used her speed to finish with ease on her plentiful fast breaks, resulting in a 17-point, three-assist performance. King provided 10 points, nine rebounds, and four steals, while Chelsea McAllister had 10 points as well to go along with three assists. The bench also contributed 23 points in the win.
Next up for the Pride, they will look to remain atop the NEWMAC conference as they take on Clark University in an important league matchup.