In the second quarter of Saturday’s Emerson women’s basketball game, Eastin Ashby picked the pocket of an opponent—something she had done 185 times before in her Lions career.
Ashby’s 186th career steal placed her atop the all-time Emerson leaderboard in the category, and was part of a resurgent defensive effort by the Lions. After two consecutive 30-point losses to conference foes Springfield and Babson, the Lions held Coast Guard to 51 points in a 78-51 victory.
“One of my assistants said, ‘The best way to rebound from two 30-point losses is to actually rebound,’ and we did a great job rebounding, we did a great job defensively,” Emerson head coach Bill Gould said. “The team deserves a lot of credit for responding the right way.”
The Lions held Coast Guard to 25.8 percent shooting from the field, and the Bears only converted on 16.7 percent of their threes. Emerson outrebounded Coast Guard 42-39.
The first quarter was marked by missed shots on both sides, with Emerson making just over 23 percent of its first quarter field goals and Coast Guard making just under 36 percent. Gould said the defensive effort kept the Lions in a good position, allowing the offense to pick up the slack as the game progressed.
“You’re going to have times where one part of your game might not be working right, and then it’s, ‘Ok, well how do you respond to that?’” Gould said. “I thought even though our shooting [wasn’t] on par to what we are used to, our defense was way better than what we’ve done. I thought it was our best defensive game all year.”
Emerson improved offensively ahead of the half, leading by nine at the break. Ashby was fouled on her breakaway following the record-setting steal and made both free throws, then nailed a three pointer to put Emerson up six with two minutes to play in the second quarter.
The offense continued to produce out of the locker room. Natalie Busch started the scoring with a three before tossing a pass ahead to Sam Boyle for an easy layup that led to a Coast Guard timeout. Maya Savino’s three out of the timeout gave the Lions a 14-point lead, which only grew from there.
Ashby said the team’s performance in the game gives Emerson a blueprint for the rest of the season.
“Now we all know that’s how we should feel after every single game, and that’s how we need to go out and play,” Ashby said.
The teams came into Saturday battling for position in the NEWMAC, with Coast Guard one game up on Emerson. The Lions’ win pulled them even with Coast Guard at 4-5 in the conference.
The Bears won both of the teams’ meetings last season, first in Connecticut and then at Emerson.
Emerson had three scorers in double digits, with Charlie Boyle, Sam Boyle, and Busch each contributing 11 points.
The Lions travel to Wheaton for an 8 p.m. tip on Wednesday.