Women's basketball team takes MASCAC, NCAA bid
The MCLA women's basketball team wasn't fazed that Worcester State College beat them last year and twice again this season. Determined and focused, the Trailblazers for the first time received the NCAA tournament bid by defeating Worcester by three points.
To get there, MCLA first had to get past Bridgewater State in the semi-finals. That team, too, had beaten the Trailblazers twice in the regular season.
According to Trailblazer guard Jade Prickett '10 of Westhampton, MA, "When we were facing Bridgewater, we knew we'd only lost by five points in both previous games. We had committed a lot of turnovers, so we were hoping to reduce the amount of turnovers and translate some of those into points. It was possible. It was going to be tough on their home court with their fans, but we got through it."
"I can't remember the last time that MCLA has beaten Bridgewater at Bridgewater," says Holly McGovern, MCLA women's basketball coach.
Against Worcester State, it was up to the Trailblazers to get off to a good start because, in their two previous games, Worcester had opened up the game in the second half.
"I think that we realized what we needed to get done," Prickett says. "We had to win to keep going. We put our heads together and everybody worked together as a team. We forgot personal agendas and really put the team's goals at hand and accomplished a lot."
According to McGovern, "We put in a defensive zone that I think confused them a little bit, and it got us off to a great start. But even during the halftime, we knew they were going to come out strong against us and we needed to be prepared for that. Winning is the best revenge. We were just excited to come back and have the opportunity to play in the championship."
With the win over Worcester State, the Trailblazers earned the automatic bid into the NCAA Division III basketball tournament. It didn't matter that they were up against Amherst, ranked first in the nation with a perfect 28-0 record.
Although they lost the game, the Trailblazers showed "a lot of heart," says McGovern. The women also out-rebounded Amherst by two, which, to their coach, was one of the most impressive stats for the Trailblazers.
"We were focused on the goal. We wanted to bring the championship home and we weren't going to let anything stop us," McGovern says. "It was tough. We were happy to be there, regardless. We go into every game thinking we can win. We prepared for that game just as we would for any other. We gave them a hell of a game, I thought."
Looking back on the season, McGovern says she is very proud of the players.
"It's the way that they handled themselves on the court. They always want to give their all. In games, they didn't back down from anybody, which, to me, is impressive, and it's something I can be very proud of as a coach. And, they did it by themselves. The last few weeks, I can take very little ownership of that. It's what they put forth on the floor. I just think that they did a great job of it," she says.