The Springfield College women’s basketball team fought hard against physical NEWMAC opponent Emerson to defeat the Lions 52-43. The Pride are now 13-1 overall, and 9-1 in NEWMAC play.
After taking the court of Blake Arena with electric energy in the first quarter, Springfield scored eight points, while holding the Lions at a mere four points. Considering Emerson averages 65.4 points per game, the Pride knew their defense was paying off.
“We really worked on locking that down, because we didn’t do a good job of that at Babson. That’s one of the reasons why we lost,” said head coach Naomi Graves. “I was pretty pleased with our defensive effort today, because I thought we really shut them down in the first half.”
Emerson responded with a very physical style of play. The second quarter was filled with players of both teams driving to the basket and diving on the court after loose balls.
The Pride rounded out the first half leading 24-13. Of Springfield’s 24 points, 16 were scored in the paint. For Emerson, 10 of their 13 points were scored in the paint.
From this point forward, it was clear that this wasn’t a game of jump shots and 3-pointers. It was a game of strength in the paint.
Leading the efforts for the Pride was senior forward Gracie Restituyo. In her seventh consecutive double double, pushing her season total to eight, Restituyo was a force under the basket. She came up with a career-high 22 rebounds and 12 points. The senior was just two rebounds shy of the program’s all-time record. Held by Judi Jennings since 1990, the record stands at 24 rebounds in a single game.
“It was very physical down there. My main job when I go in there is to rebound, so I just focused on getting the boards,” explained Restituyo. “Charlie Boyle [of Emerson], she’s a really physical kid and we’re both pretty similar in that aspect. So I just wanted to let her know who I was, and let her know that I’m the dominant, and we’re going to win this game.”
But Boyle wasn’t the only one who could see Restituyo’s fire. It spoke volumes to everyone on the court.
“One of the things I like about Gracie is her edginess, her grittiness, that downright ‘You’re not going to beat me in this game! We’re going to win!'” said Graves. “I love that in her, and I think more people on our team need that.”
Springfield would finish the game with a total of 30 points in the paint. Though, Restituyo wasn’t the only one going to work under the basket.
The Pride pushed the ball up the court every chance they could, picking up 21 points off turnovers. Junior guards Alex Goslin and Emily Jacques drove to the basket often, earning 12 and 10 points, respectively. At 6-1, Jacques also came up with eight rebounds, five of which were offensive. Rounding out the fourth player in double digits is Chelsea McCallister with 10 points and four rebounds.
Although, Graves admits this wasn’t the team’s strongest game of the season. She believes the level of physicality got the team out of sync, which interfered with decision making at times. However, she is pleased with the outcome and looking forward to the future.
“I decided I was just going to be happy over the win, because it’s one of those games you’ve just got to walk away and say, ‘We won the game! Let’s not micromanage this game!'” said Graves. “We’re playing pretty well. Our kids met the adversity. I think they did the best they could.”
Next, the Pride will host NEWMAC opponent Smith on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Blake Arena.