Sports Women's Sports

Springfield College women’s basketball NEWMAC tournament preview

Gabby Guerard
Features Editor

The women’s basketball team opened the 2018-19 season on the road for the entire first month, playing six away games, three of which were against NESCAC teams. The Pride faced adversity right away, losing to cross-town rival Western New England University 58-49 in their second game of the season. This would prove to be the start of a three-game losing streak, which Springfield put an end to in style, defeating NESCAC competitor Williams College 63-50.

Following a .500 start in November, the Pride found who they were early on and never looked back. The team has earned an overall record of 15-9, and a NEWMAC record of 11-4 thus far.

But Posse isn’t focused on the postseason quite yet.

This week, the Pride have their last two games of the regular season. After defeating NEWMAC opponent Coast Guard with a score of 71-61 Wednesday night, the team is down to one final game: senior day. Springfield will host NEWMAC opponent Clark on Saturday, February 16 at 1 p.m. in Blake Arena.

While the Pride are currently seeded in the top three, behind Babson and Smith, Springfield College women’s basketball head coach Naomi Graves stressed the importance of not overlooking these last few games of the regular season.

“Here we are, facing two teams below us. We have to earn our right to be that higher seeded team. You’ve got to get out and play, and you can’t think. You’ve got to go at them,” she explained. “Someone that wants to win, and is going to fight for the win, and is going to finish for the win- it’s all that and then some.”

Players to Watch
Senior Gracie Restituyo has had 11 double doubles this season, 10 of which have come in the last 12 games. The Pride have a record of 8-3 when Restituyo has a double double. However, her aggressive, passionate style of play in the paint has been known to get her into foul trouble. The 5-11 forward has fouled out of six games this season, three of which have been in the last six games.

“I mean that’s a huge piece. We’re in the triple overtime game [at Emerson] and she’s on the bench. That’s not helpful,” said Graves. “But I think she’s ready to finish her senior season in the best conditions possible.”

Her and fellow senior Chelsea McAllister are the only players who have NEWMAC Tournament experience deeper than the first round. As freshmen, the two were part of the 2015-16 team that made it to the NEWMAC Tournament Semifinals, losing to Bason 59-52.

Another experienced leader on the court is junior Alex Goslin, whose been a starter since she was a sophomore. The 5-foot point guard is averaging 12 points per game and commands the floor with confidence and uplifting energy.

“Alex is playing great! She’s just consistent and she’s constantly really positive, and she’s doing great,” said Graves. “Her will in the Emerson game was amazing, just amazing. I mean, she kept us in the game.”

Goslin has also made a point to take freshman backup point guard Grace Dzindolet under her wing since the season began. Dzindolet has seen time in all but one game this season, averaging about 11 minutes per game. With the help of Goslin, in addition to the rest of the team and the coaching staff, Dzindolet has grown more confident, and is very likely to see time during playoffs.

Outlook
A lot remains up in the air, in terms of how the postseason seeding will unfold. The NEWMAC standings are very close. As of right now, Springfield has an edge over MIT, after defeating the team in a head-to-head tie-breaker, claiming third and bumping the Engineers to fourth. Emerson is currently in fifth, but is behind by only one game.

Saturday’s games will finalize the seeding for the NEWMAC Tournament. If Springfield defeats Clark, it will secure the third seed and host the Quarterfinals. If the Pride lose, depending on the results of MIT and Emerson, Posse could jeopardize their opportunity to host.

Regardless of what seed Springfield earns, the team is determined to put an end to the trend that’s developed over the last two seasons: losing to lower-seeded teams in the NEWMAC Tournament first round.

Last season, the Pride entered the NEWMAC Tournament as the No. 4 seed and lost to No. 5 seed MIT in NEWMAC Quarterfinals 55-66, after defeating MIT in the regular season. In the 2016-2017 season, the Pride entered the NEWMAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed, and lost to No. 7 seed Clark in NEWMAC Quarterfinals 65-54, after defeating Clark twice in the regular season.

Graves believes that in order to have a better outcome, there needs to be one key aspect that’s been missing in the past.

“Senior leadership, that’s the difference,” she said. “When we were successful, the seniors were driven. When we were successful, those seniors refused to lose. And it always comes down to that leadership, because everybody’s playing well. So who’s the one that doesn’t want to go home?”

While it may sound fundamental, Graves also noted that consistently being able to score is another critical factor.

“It’s also about being able to defend, I’m a big defensive coach, but at this point, everybody plays defense pretty consistently! It’s the team that can flat out shoot the ball,” she added.

The schedule for NEWMAC Tournament is as follows: Quarterfinals are Tuesday, Feb. 19; Semifinals are Thursday, Feb. 21; Finals are Saturday, Feb. 23. The highest-seeded team will host each game.

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