By Hayden Choate
Coming off a week where they suffered their first two losses of the season, the No. 14/23 Springfield College women’s basketball team got back on track with a 87-43 win over Clark university Wednesday night in Blake Arena.
The Pride dropped two tough games to conference foes MIT and Babson and are now 3-2 in NEWMAC play after the win.
“It’s great to play in our gym and it’s always great to win but more important is how we won,” Springfield head coach Naomi Graves said. “It was just really exciting the fact that we have nine healthy bodies and everyone got in the game and contributed and they worked hard. It was awesome.”
The game did not start the way Springfield had hoped as Clark jumped out to 5-0 lead, but Springfield made a defensive adjustment that led to a 19-0 run.
“I think we were just frozen,” Graves said. “I think when you have two back to back big games on the road and you drop them and then you get in there and you think too much and they score and you don’t, it’s like we froze a little bit so we extended to a press like ‘oh we gotta press.”
The Pride took the lead back when first-year Angela Czeremcha made a three-point play, forcing Clark to call a timeout, energizing her bench and the Blake Arena crowd.
“Anytime a player on our team gets an and-one it is all about grit and emotion and determination,” Graves said. “We could get an and one off a drive with Rachel, we could get and-one off of anybody and we’re going to be standing up going ‘yeah’ we believe in and-ones, I want more and-ones.”
Every player on Springfield’s roster Wednesday scored and five players had ten or more points.
“Our goal tonight was to make sure we got everybody in as a coaching staff,” Graves said. “Get them confident, we’re gonna need them, right now we have nine people on our team. We want to trust in their ability and we want to get them confident and experienced, we’re going to become more and more dangerous if we do that.”
“After back-to-back losses we definitely needed a good pick me up,” senior Amanda Carr said. “I knew everyone was capable of what we could do tonight. It was a nice confidence boost for the girls. We’ve had a rough couple days, couple practices.”
Playing in their first full season since the COVID-19 pandemic the virus has certainly had an impact on the team. The “Posse” returned to campus for games over the winter break on Dec. 27th and since then have not only not had a fully healthy roster but have had an average of two players quarantining each week.
“It’s really emotionally difficult and from a coaching standpoint it’s really hard because you really want to work with kids in certain situations,” Graves said. “These kids have stepped up, we haven’t had a full team since Christmas, so what are these kids made of? Resiliency, They’re tough, they’re tough and that’s the thing for a coach, I’m impressed with that.”
Coming off the two losses, Graves looks at them as a learning experience.
“We’ve asked people to step up in different situations,” Graves said “We’re kind of in that survival phase, I’m really proud of the two losses, we competed, we learned, we got better, we’re playing for a seed right now so losing is feedback.”
The Posse now only have five games left in their season, home contests against WPI and Coast Guard and on the road against Mount Holyoke, Emerson and No. 20 Smith.
Smith has also only lost twice this season like Springfield and are currently 5-0 in NEWMAC play. Both teams have not lost on their home courts.
“Every game at this point is huge, we don’t look at rankings, we don’t look at ‘oh this opponent is lower than us,’’ Carr said. “We have to look at everyone as equal, especially during this time during NEWMAC. Everyone is competitive and can knock people off at any time so each game is another opportunity to prove why we have the record we do and just prove how good of a team we are together right now. Each opportunity is another blessing that we all get to play with each other.”
Carr, along with Grace Dzindolet and Stephanie Lyons are the only three seniors on the team. They have been more than exceptional leaders for their team this season on and off the court.
“It’s by far the best leadership I’ve ever had and I’ve coached here a long time,” Graves said. “They’re selfless and they’re all about the unit and it’s a rocky road with playing time. These kids have never put that in the forefront and that’s selfless leadership. It’s been absolutely amazing, and the reason we are where we are is because of them.”
Springfield’s next game is their senior day against WPI Saturday in Blake Arena.
Photo: Joe Arruda/The Student