Sports Women's Sports

Springfield women’s basketball falls behind early, can’t close gap against Smith

By Tucker Paquette

The Springfield College women’s basketball team was consistently outpaced by Smith College at home on Wednesday night in Blake Arena, ultimately dropping the contest by a final score of 74-56. 

Springfield was down by eight points at the end of the first quarter, and the deficit would balloon from there. At one juncture late in the game, Smith opened up a 21-point lead. 

This victory for the Pioneers marks their 15th in a row, and two of the wins on that lengthy ongoing streak have come against Springfield: Smith also beat the Pride on Jan. 7, 64-50.

In Wednesday’s matchup, the Pride were plagued by an inability to make shots, as they converted a meager 33.3% of their looks from the field over the course of the game.

“We needed to make our layups,” Springfield head coach Naomi Graves said. “When we play a high-level team, we need to finish [our chances to score].” 

Ball movement was another facet in the game in which Smith outclassed the Pride, as Springfield had just five assists compared to the Pioneers’ 17.

Springfield sophomore forward Angela Czeremcha, who served as a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing night for the Pride by contributing 16 points, believes her team is well-equipped to respond from Wednesday’s loss. 

“We’re [going to] get right back in the gym,” Czeremcha said. “We’re going to focus on making good decisions, getting one more pass, reading the offense and defense better.” 

Graves echoed Czeremcha’s positive outlook on the Pride moving forward. 

“It’s hard to keep fighting a team like this and not necessarily come out [as] the winner,” Graves said. “But if you always base it on winning and losing, you’re never [going to] get better. We got better tonight…. We learned how we need to be more cohesive down the stretch.”

Meanwhile, the Pioneers were greatly aided by forward Katelyn Pickunka, a graduate student who put up a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Smith senior forward Morgan Morrison also had a strong performance, adding in 20 points and seven rebounds of her own. 

Smith head coach Lynn Hersey, while definitely encouraged by the Pioneers’ performance, is still taking a deliberate approach when assessing her squad. 

“It’s one day at a time, it’s making sure we’re locked in on the things we need to do to grow as a program,” Hersey said.

Hersey also noted how playing NEWMAC conference games requires her team to be sharp.

“[For] every game in the NEWMAC, we know we have to be on point in terms of playing both sides of the ball,” Hersey said. 

Springfield and Smith have three games apiece remaining in their respective regular seasons. After that, the first round of the NEWMAC playoffs begin.

The Pioneers are sitting pretty currently, leading the NEWMAC standings with a 21-1 record. The Pride, meanwhile, are currently fifth in those standings with a 14-8 record. 

While the Pride will need to clean up a few aspects of their game to get where they ultimately want to go this season, Graves indicated her team has the mental makeup to do just that.

“Was our effort there [tonight]? [Yes],” Graves said. “Our execution wasn’t always there, but we fought. Our heart was there.” 

Next up for the Pride is a home game at 3 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 11, against Emerson. 

Photo: Springfield College Athletics

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