After watching the men's basketball team wipe out the University of Massachusetts-Boston Beacons in the first game of a doubleheader on Dec. 2, the women's team was eager to prove they could do one better in the nightcap. Relying on stout defense and even better shot selection, the Lions buried the Beacon women, 74-47, with buckets from long range by their sharpshooting guards.
Coming off a two-game winning streak in the Gallaudet University Invitational Tournament in Washington, D.C. over Thanksgiving break, the Lions continued their winning ways by demolishing the Beacons in their first non-tournament performance on the Piano Row Gymnasium hardwood this season. Led by 24 points from Maude Okrah, a senior guard and co-captain, the Lions enjoyed a comfortable double-digit lead for the majority of the game.
After Emerson missed its first three shots, sophomore forward Kathy Andrade opened the flood gates by scoring the first two points of the game off of free throws. She finished with eight points and four assists. The absence of senior point guard Bri Papa due to a scheduling conflict did not seem to have an effect on the Lions. Freshman Rachel Kaye stepped in nicely by scoring 18 points and going 6-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-8 from behind the three point arc in just her second college start.
"Most teams know that we like to pound it inside," said Kaye. "I think that we needed to step it out from the outside a little bit, especially since Dre [junior guard Andrea Kosak, who arrived after halftime] and Bri weren't going to be there."
Emerson enjoyed a comfortable 22-point lead at halftime as the score sat at 40-18, and as the second half started the Beacons made their best attempt to close the gap. With just over seven minutes remaining in the game, the Beacons crawled to within 17 points. The streak was short-lived as the Lions scored less than a minute later.
"First and foremost, [the key to this win] was our defense, which contributed to the second thing which was just easy transition baskets, especially in the first half," Head Coach Bill Gould said. "Defense and transition baskets were two big things."
Gould stressed the Lions are not perfect, saying the team seemed to lose focus during the second half when the defensive intensity that led to the big lead was almost nonexistent.
The most important part of the game, however, wasn't just the score but the team's statement to the rest of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference before league play begins, Okrah said.
"It's crucial [to start off the year strong], because you're sending a message when you have a strong winning record," the marketing communication major said. "For us, all our conference games are second semester so we need a strong start first semester to send a message that we're ready so hopefully they start preparing for us."
Senior forward Lauren Vassallo, who finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds, is already looking ahead to conference play and the potential that this team holds.
"We tend to start the season off really slow and towards the middle of the season we get together and start playing well," the co-captain and print journalism major said. "So to show that we're playing well off the bat, toward the middle and end of the season we're going to be unstoppable."