Lions women streak toward basketball playoffs

by Beacon Staff • February 18, 2009

bEmerson 80, St. Joseph's 56/b

Confidence is in no short supply when the women's basketball team steps onto the court, but it wasn't always so for the Lions.

"It is nice to have this feeling," said center Lauren Zaniboni. "At the beginning of the season our team was lacking confidence; we didn't fully believe we had it in us."

Mental momentum will be essential to carrying the team through to post-season success.

"I think if we keep playing as a team and playing to our full potential we can go all the way," said sophomore forward Kathy Andrade.

They've earned their rep, and they know it, beating GNAC-undefeated rival Emmanuel College last week for the first time in the team's history. Now, if Emmanuel loses, they are one win away from entering the playoffs as the number one seed.

"Playing hard and playing right has made everything come together," said Head Coach Bill Gould. "Our confidence as a team has shown through by simply stepping up, beating teams and feeling good about it."

That final step to the playoffs will be a game Feb. 21, against Albertus Magnus College, where premier placement in the postseason-and possibly the team's momentum-will be at stake.

After mounting a four game winning streak, culminating in their 80-56 rout of St. Joseph's College at home, they are feeling the positive electricity coursing among them on the court. Sophomore Zaniboni says the team is confident going into the playoffs.

"I think we are peaking at the right time," Zaniboni said. "The past three or four games we have really begun to gel and come together as a team. If we play together, it will be hard for other teams to stop us."

The Lions carry the keys to success.

"We are a well balanced team," Gould said. "Our versatility on offense, dominant defense and the unselfishness of which we play have brought us success and will continue to carry us through the playoffs."

With only nine players on the roster, they play with great depth. The team has four players scoring averages in double digits. Zaniboni puts up 13.5 points per game. Senior guard Maude Okrah is a staple contributor with 10.6 points per game; Andrade gives 10.5 and senior forward Lauren Vassallo drops in 10.4.

Sophomore forward Kathy Andrade said their strength is in their balanced scoring attack.

"No other team in the league can say they have four players in double figures," said Andrade. "When you stop one the other opens up, so it really is hard to stop us."

Zaniboni, a forward whose imposing 6'2" height helps makes her a dominant low-post force, agreed the team's shallow roster is deceptive.

"Most teams have one or two big scorers and the rest of the team is made up of role players, but our team is not like that," said Zaniboni. "If the other team decides to focus on guarding our posts, our guards score, and if they decide to focus on stopping outside shots our posts can score as well."

In spite of the strength of their parts, it is crucial on such a small squad that its players remain healthy, focused and confident.

"Our weakness as a team is our lack of composure at times," Andrade said. "We get frustrated and frazzled too quickly even when we are still in games. Our worst opponent is truly ourselves. If we control the tempo and play our game we will win games."

After last year's first round loss to Johnson Wales University, the first shot at GNAC playoff redemption will be Feb. 24 at home.

"Right now we are taking it one game at a time," said Andrade. "We have to take care of our last regular season game before our full attention is on playoffs. As a team we are focused on working hard and executing so we can continue winning.",Confidence is in no short supply when the women's basketball team steps onto the court, but it wasn'