Pride women’s basketball currently has a conference record of 11-4 and are sitting at fourth in the NEWMAC standings behind Babson (12-3), Smith (11-3), and WPI (11-3). The women’s spot in the conference has a changed a great deal within the last few games.
Springfield put together one of their best games all season in a win against Coast Guard on January 31st. The defense completely locked the Bears down, allowing only two points in the first quarter. The game not only showed that the women had come a long way defensively but also showed how strong they have become on offense.
The Pride had four women in double figures that night. Grace Restituyo led the way with 13 points and nine rebounds.
“I think our team is starting to peak at the right time,” head coach Naomi Graves said the win. “I think they are starting to see that their hard work is producing a lot of good things for our program. I have complete confidence in them right now.”
The women had another strong performance in a blowout win against Wheaton, 76-50, on Feb. 3. Since then, the women have dropped two games straight and are trending in the wrong direction at the worst possible time.
The women dropped a game to Clark University, a team that is currently eighth in the NEWMAC, and has only four conference wins this season.
After the disappointing loss to the Cougars, the women faced Babson on February 3rd. The Beavers are the reigning champs of the NEWMAC and have won six out of the last eight titles.
The two teams came in tied atop the NEWMAC conference at 11-3. The Pride lost to the Beavers, 55-48, but in a way that was uncharacteristic for the team.
Springfield, ranks 31st in points allowed per game in the nation and allowed a shocking 40 points to Babson in the first half. Twenty-three of which came in the second quarter. The Beavers made scoring look easy in the first half of that game. On offense, Springfield settled for deep threes and and seemed to lose sight of their game plan.
“We have to work on our zone offense and on our high low game,” said Graves after the loss. “I think we have to understand the inside out procedure. Grace (Restituyo) can’t be the only offense we have inside.”
Restituyo, a 5’11 junior center, has emerged this season as a star for the Pride. She has been a force on the inside, something that they were looking for after losing Ava Adamopoulos, who averaged 14.9 points and 8.3 rebounds last season. Restituyo is currently leading the Pride in points and rebounds, with 11.3 points per game 10.8 rebounds. The problem that is seen in the losses for the Pride is that when she becomes the only inside presence, the Pride struggle to win.
Heather King, a 5’11 senior, can be that other inside presence that Graves is looking for. King is arguably the most important piece for a NEWMAC title run. She has the ability to be the best player on the floor for on any given night. She can defend, score from almost anywhere on the floor, and can pass.
The senior forward is averaging 8.6 points per game, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the Pride. While the stats don’t exactly pop out, King has had multiple games where she has scored in double figures. Even when she doesn’t fill the stat sheet, her presence is felt on the court through her defense and leadership.
In the Pride’s last two losses, King struggled to find her shot, shooting a combined 8-27 from the field. If King is able to get out of this shooting slump, she will make Springfield a force to be reckoned with in the NEWMAC tournament.
Sophomore guard Emily Jacques is confident that the Pride will be ready when the tournament begins.
“The two recent losses were a huge wake up call for us,” said Jacques. “We are going to let them fuel our fire and just hope to come out strong in our upcoming games.”
The Pride play their last game of the season against Wheaton College this Saturday at 1p.m.
Kris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org