By Joe Arruda
Sprinting down the court with the burnt orange sphere bouncing by her right side, Stephanie Lyons zoomed past the retreating Connecticut College defense and laid the ball into the net after kissing it off the glass.
Then, on the next Springfield College possession, she lined up from beyond the arc, set her feet, and released the three pointer that extended the Pride lead to 9-0 with just over five minutes played in the game.
On Saturday afternoon, the Pride (5-4) welcomed the Camels from Connecticut College (3-5) into Blake Arena for a NEWMAC/NESCAC showdown. The Pride defeated the Camels, 61-46, en route to earning their fifth win on the season. The win came as the second of two emphatic victories for the Pride since facing a four-game losing skid.
After the first five minutes, the scoring drought for the Camels was quenched, and they finished the first quarter facing a deficit of just four points.
Senior guard Emily Jacques dominated the second quarter, posting 10 points on 5-5 shooting from the field after going scoreless to start the game. The Pride entered halftime with a 28-17 lead, one that appeared to be insurmountable with the way their defense was playing, holding the Camels to an abysmal 32 percent shooting from the field.
Connecticut College outscored Springfield 16-3 in the first six minutes of the second half, and the intensity returned to Blake Arena.
A fast break layup from Jenna Whelan gave the Camels their first lead of the game.
After making changes to the defensive set, Springfield fought back with grit.
Jacques went on another scoring run, she pulled down an offensive rebound and then was hacked on a put-back attempt. She sunk both free throws and tied the game at 33. After Connecticut College responded with a bucket of their own, Jacques came back down the court and pulled up from beyond the top of the arc. Her rainbow arcing shot found its pot of gold on the way down, and with the scoreboard reading 36-35 in favor of the Pride, they never looked back.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by the strong defense and hustle of Springfield College. With under a minute left on the clock, Alex Goslin found herself in a position that she was in several times throughout the game: on the floor with the ball in her hands. This time it was in the offensive paint. She tossed up a shot from her knees that deflected off the backboard and into the net, granting a standing ovation from her teammates on the bench, and the supporters in the stands.
That basket came as her only made field goal in the game, a position that she is not used to.
“They really shut down Alex’s offensive game today a little bit, and Alex had to work really hard on both ends of the court so she was falling short,” head coach Naomi Graves said. “But, Alex is going to be one of the premier players in our history of our basketball program. She is going to hit 1,000 points soon, and not many people have done that. Today she may have looked scrappy, but most days she looks skillful. She was just getting beat up a little bit today.”
Goslin leads the fast paced Pride offense on almost every offensive trip, and though it may look like an off game on the stat sheet, it does not reflect the impact she had on the game, and on the season as a whole for the Pride.
“It’s just heart. Playing with the heart, you want the ball so you get it on defense and then on offense you just work hard. Alex is probably one of the hardest working players ever. She’ll dive on the floor for the ball, she’ll play defense, she’ll push you around, everything,” her teammate and classmate Hall said.
Though her impact on the game did not reflect on her own stat line, her efforts influenced those of others. A usual floor general and leading scorer had more of an impact as the former on Saturday, and the rest of her team picked her up with multiple players getting hot at different points in the game.
“It’s hard sometimes to note that if Alex (Goslin) doesn’t score, where are we going to get the scoring from? And I always knew these folks on our team like Taylor, Emily, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be Rudy or Steph or Grace, but I knew we had some other people that could score, and they stepped up big today. I think Conn College’s game plan was to not let Alex get anything easy, and that happened. She did not score the points that she normally scores, but she did a lot of other things,” Graves said.
The Posse has earned its reputation as a team with a strong focus on unity. They know and do what is necessary to win, and sometimes that involves selfless play, spreading the ball, and supporting each other when things aren’t going their way.
“I think the will for our team right now, we’re finding our, what I call, the heartbeat. The drive to win, and the drive to finish. They’re looking at each other as a connection to themselves. So that’s what I think is really good, like if Steph (Lyons) is hot and she’s made those threes, give her the ball. If Emily (Jacques) is hot, give her the ball. If Taylor (Hall) is gonna score, give her the ball. I think that’s a real selfless philosophy attitude of players, and I think we’re getting there.”
Jacques finished with a game-high 22 points, supported by 16 from Hall and 12 from Lyons.
The Pride will continue their non-conference schedule on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. when they will matchup with Worcester State. They will return home next Friday, December 13, to host Westfield State at 7:00 p.m..
Photo courtesy of Joe Arruda