By Hayden Choate
Heading into the final quarter, the No. 24 Springfield College women’s basketball team held a slim five-point lead over Worcester State, 53-48.
Junior point guard Rachel Vinton had a simple message for her team.
“I was like, guys, we love each other. We have to start putting in the effort for each other instead of kind of staying in our own head,” Vinton said. “In the third quarter, we were all in our own heads, and I was too, and I kind of was like, ‘we need to stop focusing on the downs and we know we love each other, we got to put the effort in to do it for each other’, and that kind of sparked an energy in Sid(ney Wentland) and everyone kind of fed off Sid.”
Holding on to the five-point lead, graduate student Sidney Wentland completed two three-point plays and launched a three point shot while Vinton completed a three point play and had five steals to help Springfield outscore Worcester State, 26-12, in the fourth quarter and win, 79-60, Tuesday night.
“We haven’t really had a close game like that other than Williams,” Vinton said. “This game I didn’t think we played particularly well until the fourth quarter, so I think that once we found the energy after Sid’s and-one. We kind of just all fed off that and kind of just calmed down and found our rhythm that way. It was a little choppy the entire game. We had our spurts, we kind of stepped it up on defense.”
In addition to a 12-3 run Springfield went on in the fourth, the overall defensive play stepped up for the Pride in the final 10 minutes.
“We rebounded better in the last quarter,” Springfield head coach Naomi Graves said. “It came down to giving them only one look and I thought our defense was better at times, they were forced into shots they weren’t comfortable with.”
Wentland finished with 17 points in the victory while Vinton had 15 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and nine steals.
“We run on Rachel’s energy. She played a lot of minutes,” Graves said. “We count on that energy, we count on her leadership, the last few games she’s played a ton because they’ve been closer games and she can read the floor, and she has really good command of her teammates in a good way, like in a connecting way, not in an authoritative way. Like ‘Hey i’m going to get you the ball.’ She really makes us click and tick.”
Vinton’s 10 rebounds led the team.
“Especially on the boards, some of our shorter players like myself couldn’t get a body on them, but I know my teammates had my back so they helped me on the body part and I just grabbed the ball.”
Springfield’s nine-game winning streak to start the season has been in large part to the depth the team has. On Tuesday night in Blake Arena, that depth helped them prevail.
“I think honestly the folks that came off the bench were key,” Graves said. “I thought Jae(lon Daubon) played really well. I thought Kayla Madden played well. They just gave us the rotations. I think that’s the key if we can get our bench as confident as our starters. When some people have those off games, where they can’t find their rhythm — which we’re all going to have that — and they come off the bench and do some things. That’s huge.”
The Pride have one final road game at Connecticut College left before the holiday break. Graves knows her team learned a lot from the win on Tuesday.
“I think every game we learn something different and in this game we learned that we can — not that I want to go through it again — but we can have that lead, and it’s comfortable, but then we can lose it and still come out with a 19-point win,” Graves said. “Not many teams can do that. And I think that knowing that is good, and we can look at this game and say ‘well what can we have done better or be better at?’ And maybe it was little things like talking and communicating and doing the little things. Those are all the things that matter.”
Photo: Joe Arruda/The Student