As a lackluster season winds to an end, the women’s basketball team looks to cling on to as much hope as possible with the Patriot League Tournament right around the corner. After last week, the Leopards were able to better position themselves to make a “Cindrella-esque” run to win the championship.
The team completed a season sweep over American this past Wednesday with a 63-59 win over the Eagles, putting them in seventh place in the conference. Although they lost to rival Lehigh this past weekend, their place in the standings went unchanged.
“Getting the season sweep over American was definitely a confidence booster and it legitimized us as the number one spot for the play-in game before playoffs start, which is very promising,” senior Jamie O’Hare said.
Depending upon how they finish out the regular season, the team will either play Boston University or Colgate in a play-in game to see who plays at either Army or Bucknell in the quarterfinals. For now, the women only have one thing on their mind.
“The goal for the rest of the regular season is the same goal we’ve had all year round and that is to get better every day so that we can win ourselves a Patriot League Championship,” O’Hare said.
Although their record indicates that they haven’t had a very successful season, it doesn’t reflect their play as of late. After starting the season 3-11, the women have gone 3-6 and have noticeably improved their play during the conference portion of the schedule.
“We’ve really come together as a team,” junior Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby said. “We’ve found each others’ strengths and everyone has been contributing in their own way.”
If the team wants to win out for the rest of the regular season, however, it will certainly take some effort. With three games left, the Leopards have to face off against the second place team in the conference, Bucknell, twice. The Bison are 20-6 on the season and would most likely be the team that the Leopards face in the tournament if they were to win the play-in game. Even if they don’t finish strong, the women still have a lot of hope going in the league tournament.
“I think everyone’s chances in the Patriot League Tournament are the same,” O’Hare said. “Although throughout the season your ranking determines where you will be matched up during the playoffs, the tournament is a completely new and different ball game.”
The “anybody can win on any given day” approach seems to be resonating with the other members of the team as well.
“We’re going in as the underdogs but we’ve been working hard and I think we’ll surprise a lot of people,” Ottewill-Soulsby said.
Going into the year the team knew it was going to have to face adversity under a new head coach, Theresa Grentz. The Hall of Famer and former USA Olympic team head coach brought a new system with her to the Leopards team.
“Playing in a completely new program, system, and with a group of girls you aren’t as familiar with, time is key and I think that’ll be in our favor during playoffs,” O’Hare said.
The team has seemingly started to gel and, given their recent success, its certainly possible that they could make a deep run in the Patriot League tournament. A strong finish to the regular season could create some momentum for the women to do just that.