By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College women’s basketball team defeated Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 63-51, on Wednesday night in Blake Arena. With the win, the Pride advanced to 7-0 in NEWMAC conference play and 16-6 on the season.
The Pride averaged 76 points per game entering Wednesday, so having only 25 points at the half felt very unusual. But, Head Coach Naomi Graves knew that with WPI’s team comes an offensive struggle.
“Welcome to WPI’s grind,” Graves said.
Wednesday night’s leading point scorer, Sam Hourihan, was introduced to that grind for the first time.
“They didn’t let us do anything,” Hourihan said, laughing.
While WPI was tough, Springfield was able to manage and break away towards the end.
The defense was established immediately for both teams as WPI started out shooting 1-8 from the field and Springfield was only able to capitalize on three of their first nine shot attempts.
The Pride did find a way to sink the 3-pointers, though, and began the game with a 14-5 lead. But, WPI was able to close the gap at the end of each quarter.
“I think it was just the kind of game we expected,” Coach Graves said. “And I think we did a really nice job.”
The peak of the offensive struggles occurred in the second quarter, when each team allowed only eight points. Springfield shot 4-12 from the field with four turnovers in the quarter, while WPI shot 2-15 from the field with one turnover. After a tight third quarter, The Pride entered the fourth leading, 40-35.
In the final quarter, Springfield separated themselves and showed exactly why they have yet to lose through seven conference games this season. Things began clicking offensively for the Pride, thanks in part to a coaching adjustment by Coach Naomi Graves.
“I think we switched to 30, which is our motion offense. I think we created movement, and just by moving it helped get a rhythm.”
This adjustment helped the offense to explode for 23 points in the fourth quarter; 14 of which came from the seniors on the roster.
“I feel like every single game, the seniors step up,” Sam Hourihan said. “You can always count on Alex (Goslin) to run the offense and everything, and Taylor Hall does the little things like the offensive boards, or playing defense on the best player.”
The little things were a large reason why Springfield came out on top in the end. They were 21-26 total from the free throw line, and 10-11 in the fourth quarter.
With or without being fouled, however, the Pride is always prepared when the game is on the line. Situational basketball is one of the main components of a Posse practice.
“There is not a practice that we don’t do possibly two or three situational scrimmages; ‘two minutes to go, three minutes to go, sideline; we got three seconds on the clock.’ We’re in that part of the season, and I don’t think there’s a basketball coach out there that isn’t working on that,” Graves explained.
Commitment to practicing this type of basketball is exactly why they were able to secure a double-digit win in a game where a comfortable lead was hard to come by.
The typical contributors were able to lead the way for the Pride. Goslin, a senior, posted another double-double with 14 points and 10 total rebounds and Hall scored 9 points, even after badly twisting her ankle in the third quarter which forced her to stay out of the game for most of the quarter.
Despite those impressive performances, the star of the game was Hourihan who dominated both sides of the ball. The first-year scored 15 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked an astounding five shots.
“Our biggest emphasis for every game is on defense,” Hourihan said. “So I just try and go out there and try and grab every rebound, and if they come at me, I block the shot.”
Defense was exactly what Springfield needed to combat WPI. Making a game plan, sticking to it and making adjustments along the way is necessary to succeed in the NEWMAC.
The Pride will travel to MIT on Saturday for another conference matchup at 1:00 p.m., and then to Babson next Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m.. They will finish the regular season in Blake Arena the following Saturday, Feb. 22, for their 10th consecutive conference game against Wellesley at noon.
Photo courtesy of Evan Wheaton