By Gabby Guerard
Exhaustion desperately clings onto each muscle, sweat oozes from each pore, and encouragement rolls off each player’s tongue. The game clock shows that the Pride are in the midst of the second half of their battle; everything comes down to simple decisions: choosing to box out when their bodies are out of energy, choosing to make a quick cut when their legs feel like lead weights, and choosing to outwork their opponents when their minds are drained.
The Springfield women’s basketball team is familiar with these decisions, as the Pride are fighting through the second half of the 2016-17 season. After tipping off this season with victories from their first seven conference games, the Pride had their best start since the 2005-06 season.
However this winning streak was cut short on Jan. 18, when the team came up short for the first time within the NEWMAC conference, after losing to WPI with a score of 49-61. The Pride have a conference record of 8-1, where they remain tied for second place along with MIT and WPI, and are in close pursuit of Babson.
Determined to earn another conference win, the Pride took on Mount Holyoke Wednesday where they triumphed 92-30. Freshman guard Alex Goslin was a standout, leading the team with 5 steals. While only 5 feet tall, Goslin’s quick speed was no match for the Lyons.
In addition to this relentless determination, statistics show that there are also a few other aspects contributing to their successful season.
The Pride have dominated in the paint, outscoring their NEWMAC opponents 364-190 overall. This component alone has proved to be a deciding factor in numerous games. In fact, the only conference game where Springfield did not produce more points in the paint than their opponent resulted in their first loss to WPI. In every other conference game, the Pride have managed to score an amount equal to or greater than their opponent, resulting in seven victories.
Junior Heather King understands this responsibility and has stepped up to be one of the top rebounders and point-scorers this season. The 5-foot-11-inch forward has been a consistent starter, thriving in the paint with an average of 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
“It’s important to be a strong presence in the paint so I can get easy looks,” explained King. “This will then cause the defense to help in more which would then open up the outside and get our guards the open looks too.”
Another aspect distinguishing Springfield from the competition is the overwhelming contribution that the bench has been able to produce in terms of points. So far, the Pride’s bench has outscored its NEWMAC competitors’ benches 342-120. In all but one conference matchup, every time Springfield’s bench scored more than the opponent’s bench, they reigned victorious.
Senior Ava Adamopoulos knows this well, as she has been the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 15.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, all while coming off the bench. The 6-foot-2-inch center has produced five double-doubles, with double figures in both points and rebounds. Throughout this season, Adamopoulos has been named as a NEWMAC Women’s Offensive Player of the Week, an ECAC New England Player of the week, and to the New England Women’s Basketball Association Honor Roll.
Having been a part of the most recent Springfield team to win a NEWMAC title back in 2013-14, Adamopoulos knows what it will take to get there again.
“I would say that our team is very similar to that team in that we have strong upperclassmen and a very deep and unselfish bench,” said Adamopoulos. “We are working hard in practice and just really need to keep that going for the next month, so that we end up where we want to be on February 28th: with a trophy over our heads.”
With seven games remaining in the season, all of which are conference games, the women’s basketball team will look to finish strong, in order to earn the best seed possible for the NEWMAC tournament. The Pride will compete next on Saturday, where they will take on MIT. Tip off is at 2p.m. in Blake Arena.