Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
With the conference tournament over, the women’s basketball team’s season isn’t over quite yet. Thanks to their strong performance during the regular season, the Eagles had secured their spot at the NAIA National Championships before the conference tournament had even started. It will be the Eagles second ever trip to the national tournament; their first came last year where they lost to fifth-seed Cardinal Stritch University in the tournaments opening round.
Since last season, the Eagles have only gotten stronger. “We’ve got a deep team,” said head coach Tim Brown, “we defend well…we limit teams to one shot…We have a lot of very good players.” That depth has been a huge factor as the season has gone on; the Eagles went on a seven-game win streak to end the season and kept a good rotation to keep players fresh. “I don’t think we had to play anybody 30 minutes [against Carlow University in the KIAC Quarterfinals] we have people that can give us great contributions off the bench,” said Brown.
The team has also been able to lean heavily on some of its older players. Junior Brittany Warren was the third Eagle this season to reach 1,000 career points, joining seniors Kylee Gorby and Catie Fletcher.
“This has definitely been our most challenging but most rewarding season,” said Gorby, “We had a change of coaching…that could have been an obstacle for us but instead it caused us to cling together and work as a team.” The change of coaching came over halfway through the season but it didn’t seem to slow the Eagles down; the Eagles only lost one game after the sudden departure of Jason Price.
“Our philosophy hasn’t changed at all [since the coaching change],” said Brown. “We work hard in practice everyday.”
Despite the comfortable end to the season, Brown was quick to acknowledge that the Eagles still had some problems to work on if they want to make a splash at Nationals. “We’ve got some talented players and they make difficult shots,” said Brown. “If we set screens better we would have an easier shot.” Even with that criticism in mind, the Eagles shooting has been far from poor. As a team, the Eagles have shot a respectable 41 percent from the field. On top of that they’ve managed to secure second chances incase shots miss by out rebounding teams heavily on the offensive glass.
“We know how we play,” said Gorby, “[Coach Brown] allows us to play to our abilities… Having three players that have scored 1,000 points is a testament [to that].”
As March 9 approaches, the Eagles will have some recovery time before they have to play in the tournament’s opening round. “I want to win a first round game at Nationals,” said Gorby, “I really want us to get past that first round game and set new records.”