By Hayden Choate
The Springfield College women’s basketball team finished the regular season at 21-3 after getting off to a historic 16-0 start – the longest winning streak to open a season in program history.
The Pride won its final three games of the regular season, but senior Grace Dzindolet knows that in the postseason, the team can’t rest on its record and must keep improving.
“When you go 16-0 and stuff, it’s easy to think we’re the best but obviously there are things that we can still work on and places that we can improve on,” Dzindolet said.
Springfield is the No. 3 seed in the NEWMAC conference tournament because all three of their losses came in conference play. The Pride’s first two losses of the season came back-to-back at MIT and Babson.
Wins at home against WPI and Clark – the latter by 44 points – helped the team boost its conference record, but on Feb. 9 top-seeded Smith, which went undefeated in conference play, handed Springfield its third loss.
Dzindolet believes the losses were all learning experiences and showed the Pride that they have to work to be better.
“The three losses that we did have showed us that,” Dzindolet said. “But I think keeping up every day, working hard knowing that there are teams that want to beat us, we have to keep wanting to get better and working together to get to a better spot.”
After Springfield lost to Smith on Feb. 9, the possibility of the Pride being anywhere from the third to the fifth seed was on the table.
“As a head coach, I stress about the numbers. I just want this team to be put in a position that they deserve,” Graves said.
Springfield beat Emerson, Coast Guard and Mount Holyoke while outscoring its opponents 236-135, and got a bit of help from Babson, which beat both MIT and WPI last week to earn a No. 2 seed and clinch the third spot for the Pride. As a result of this, the Pride get a home playoff game, providing them with a rematch against the Bears on Wednesday night.
Coast Guard finished the season 13-10 with a 5-5 conference record. After losing to Springfield on Feb. 16, the Bears had a commanding win over Emerson three days later, giving them the No. 6 seed while the Lions fell to the No. 7 seed.
The winner of the quarterfinal between Springfield and Coast Guard will go on to play the winner of the quarterfinal between Babson and Emerson.
No. 1 Smith got a first-round bye and will play the winner of the No. 4/No. 5 game between WPI and MIT in the semifinals. The winners of the semifinals will meet on Sunday in the NEWMAC finals.
The winner of the NEWMAC tournament earns an automatic bid into the 2022 NCAA tournament.
Springfield hopes to get a bid one way or another into the tournament for the first time since 2014 – when the three current seniors on the team were in eighth grade.
The NCAA released regional rankings last week for games through Feb. 13. Springfield was ranked No. 2 in Region II, while Smith was No. 1.
Hosting a home playoff game after a year without any games is huge for the Posse especially as they went 12-0 in the regular season at Blake Arena. This will be the fifth NEWMAC playoff game Springfield has hosted since 2018-19. Two years ago, the Pride lost to Smith in the semifinals at home after beating WPI in the quarterfinals.
In 2019, Springfield beat Clark at home in the quarterfinals, then went on the road to beat Smith before losing the championship game to MIT inside Blake Arena.
This year, the goal for the team – especially the seniors who played in that game – is to get back to the championship.
“I think now we’ll be ready for NEWMACs and ready to go,” Dzindolet said.
Photo: Joe Arruda/The Student