By Hayden Choate
The Springfield College women’s basketball team pulled out a gritty win over Coast Guard 76-60 in the NEWMAC quarterfinals Wednesday night at Blake Arena advancing to the semifinals.
The Posse will now travel to No. 2 seed Babson Friday for the semifinals after Babson beat No. 7 Emerson to advance.
“It feels good to win difficult. I think that’s what it’s gonna take,” Springfield head coach Naomi Graves said. “I think our kids got gritty. I think they did the right things.”
The Pride faced off against the Bears for the second time in Blake Arena in a week. This time Coast Guard was a lot more physical, especially on the defensive side.
Coast Guard got out to a 7-3 lead early before Springfield tied the game at seven. The two teams went back and forth until Springfield took a 21-19 lead at the start of the second quarter and never looked back.
The Bears would not go away though, keeping the game close as Springfield led 37-27 at halftime.
“Even though we were up by ten, the baskets just kept on trading and trading,” First-year Angie Czeremcha said.
The turning point of the game however was with 3:40 left in the third quarter. The sequence began when Czeremcha came down with one of her 12 defensive rebounds.
Sam Hourihan found Stephanie Lyons in the corner for a three-point shot. Coast Guard answered but as the Pride got the ball back Grace Dzindolet got the ball, drove to the basket, made a euro-step move, and made the layup.
Coast Guard would score again but as the Pride set up on the offensive side of the ball Hourihan passed the ball to Dzindolet at the top of the arch who drained the three, pulling the trigger on the shot so fast she knew she wanted to shoot before the ball was in her hands.
A missed three-point attempt by Coast Guard resulted in another defensive rebound for Czeremcha which ended in another three-point shot for Springfield this time from Hourihan from Dzindolet, igniting the Blake Arena crowd and forcing Coast Guard to take a timeout.
Graves believes that was when the momentum was fully in the Posse’s favor.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Graves said. “The eurostep then the threes back to back, blew the place up, it was emotional.”
“You could feel the floor shaking, it was amazing,” Czermacha said.
At the beginning of the quarter, the Pride were playing shut-down defensively but could not get a basket.
“I think we aren’t real smart at the end of the game,” Graves said. “We had four empty possessions. You don’t want to freeze the ball, you don’t want to not shoot, but you want to come up with a score so I mean I was annoyed at the end because of that but because they were working their tail off at one end and you were getting the rebound and you weren’t getting a reward.”
Hourihan and Czeremcha combined for 40 points and 28 rebounds. Czeremcha believes that the rebounding translates to better offense as she had 16 points and 14 rebounds.
“I personally think I play way better when I focus on rebounding,” Czeremcha said. “I think it fuels my offensive game and I know I just think I gotta get that rebound, I gotta get that ball.”
“It’s amazing how strong you are in the most important times and there are three minutes to go and you come up with a ball and a rebound and you rip it out of that kid’s hands. I think it’s amazing,” Graves said about Czeremcha after the game.
Playing in her first collegiate playoff game, Czeremacha was grateful for how much she has grown this season thanks to her teammates.
“I was just trying to take it all in,” Czeremacha said. “I couldn’t have done without everybody I feel like I’ve changed so much from the beginning of the season I feel like if I was thinking of myself where I was playing in this game at the beginning of the season I’d be so freaked out, I felt great, I really couldn’t have done it without them.”
Springfield will now take on Babson for the third time this season on Friday. The Pride beat them at Blake arena back on Jan. 12th, 74-71 but lost at Babson 56-51 on Jan. 30th.
Dealing with COVID-19 and other injuries the Pride were a short-handed team the last time they faced the Beavers.
“I’m excited,” Czeremacha said. “We get to play them with everybody, we get everybody back.”
“I think it’s going to be a great matchup,” Graves said. “I think that’s what you live for, I think that’s what you look for. I think it’s going to be a battle and I think it’s going to be a battle of who executes the best.”
The game is set for Friday at 7 p.m. Just like back on Jan. 30th the game was pushed back a day due to a snowstorm, a possibility yet again this time around.
Photo: Joe Arruda/The Student