SPRINGFIELD — When the Springfield College women’s basketball team stepped onto the court Wednesday night, there was one aspect that lifted the Posse above its competition.
It wasn’t a matter of just basketball skills.
It was unity.
In the end, the team came up with a 60-43 win over Stevens, advancing to 4-4 on the season.
The game began with a lot of back and forth play, until Emily Jacques broke the tie with a 3-pointer to put the Pride up with 3:04 left in the quarter. However, Stevens went on a six-point unanswered run. Springfield’s defensive efforts were strong, but the team struggled to get its shots to drop early in the game. Meanwhile, Stevens shot 46.2 percent from the field in the opening quarter.
The intensity started to build about two and a half minutes into the second quarter. Sam Hourihan fed a bullet to Alex Goslin, who cut into the paint and drained a jump shot. Springfield had a surge of energy in the last five minutes before the half that started with the bench and carried onto the court. Every single player was on their feet shouting whenever their teammates came up with hustle plays. The Pride worked hard at both ends of the court, picking up eight offensive rebounds in the second quarter alone and running the floor quickly.
“We’ve been working a lot on rebounds and just crashing the boards a lot, and that’s what we focused on with our defense as well,” Jacques said. “Just really focusing on those two aspects, and then everything else really falls into place.”
The Pride were able to take a quick lead in the third quarter with an explosive offense, shooting 61.1 percent from the field. Springfield held Stevens to just seven points, while picking up 23 of its own — just one point shy of the team’s first half total.
After not scoring any points in the second quarter, Jacques flipped the switch offensively in the third, sinking eight points in just under four and a half minutes. She finished the night with 16 points, only three behind Goslin, who led the team with 19.
“I think at the beginning, we were a little bit rattled by the zone, and then we found a rhythm in the third quarter,” Goslin said. “And I think we responded super well from halftime, like we took what Coach said and we actually did it for once.”
But the message wasn’t just about execution and spacing on the court. It was much bigger than that.
“The last thing Coach said before we went out was ‘unity’ like ‘we need our unity.’ We learned from our past games that when we don’t play as a unit, everything sort of crumbles, so we did not want that to happen again,” Goslin later added. “We just really took that to heart and we played as a unit and I think that was the biggest difference that gave us the edge in the third quarter.”
The Pride kept their momentum going in the fourth quarter. Just under two and a half minutes in, Steph Lyons and Rachel Vinton tag-teamed defensively to trap a Stevens’ player at half-court before coming up with the ball. On the two-on-one fast-break that followed, Lyons selflessly passed ahead to Vinton to beat the only Stevens defender.
She wasn’t trying to build up her individual points. She was putting the team first.
Lyons, who picked up her first career start for the Pride Wednesday night, had a deep presence on the court. Defensively, Lyons was diving after loose balls and putting in that extra ounce of effort, which separated her from the competition. She finished the night with six points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
Also joining Lyons in the starting lineup was senior Taylor Hall. She was a force under the basket, coming up with a nine rebounds and six points.
“I’m really pleased with our team tonight,” Springfield College Women’s Basketball Head Coach Naomi Graves said. “They played really hard on the defensive end, especially with rebounding. We crashed the boards on offense and on defense and I think it made a really huge difference.”
First-year Sam Hourihan picked up her second double-double of the season, finishing the night with a team-high 10 rebounds, in addition to 10 points, three steals, and one assist.
Though, the win stretched much deeper than just the starters. It was a full team effort. And while making a few changes to the starting lineup has the potential to interfere with team chemistry, the Posse has never looked more united on the court.
“I’m really excited because the people came off the bench and they did their job,” Graves said. “They did what they needed to do, and our bench folks did what they needed to do, our starters did what they needed to do, I mean people embraced their roles and they embraced their unity.”
Next, the Pride will host Connecticut College Saturday at 1 p.m. in Blake Arena.
Photo courtesy of Lucy Hamilton