Bad habits can reveal themselves at the worst times. Such was the case for the women’s basketball team Tuesday night, in its quarterfinal playoff matchup at St. Joseph’s College of Maine.
So frequent were the turnovers and mental mistakes by the Lions, said head coach Bill Gould, he knew about four minutes into the game that his team’s chances of winning were slim.
“It was at that point that I realized things just weren’t going well,” Gould said. “You see that look in the girls’ faces and you know it’s not good. After I called the first timeout it got worse, and that’s when I really knew.”
Gould said his team couldn’t put an end to the mistakes. Open looks here, missed opportunities there, and Emerson soon found itself in a big hole.
“Once the bad habits start, it just snowballs a bit and there’s nobody there to stop it,” Gould said. “We were down four and then all of the sudden I look up and we’re down 25. I know the other team can’t score 20 points in 30 seconds, but it felt that fast.”
By the end of the night the Lions had succumbed to the Monks, 69-48, ending Emerson’s season.
St. Joseph’s will play Suffolk University tonight in the semi-final round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoff tournament.
“I think if you want to you can blame many things for the loss,” sophomore point guard Amy Sherman said. “You can say bus ride, you can say we’re tired, it’s a long season, we’re young, not used to college playoffs, but ultimately it just comes down to us as individuals and players and we didn’t step up. It’s no one’s fault but our own.”
For Sherman, the realization that playoff hope was slipping away came about 11 minutes before halftime.
“I looked up at the scoreboard and realized that we had only scored seven points,” said Sherman, a communication studies major. “Seven points in nine minutes. And we had given up 30. That was really defeating.”
The Lions committed 17 turnovers in the game and shot just 4-for-27 from the field. In comparison, the Monks came out on fire, the players said, hitting 60 percent of their shots and taking a commanding 28-point lead before the half.
“We started the game with too many turnovers and bad defensive sets that we weren’t rotating well in,” Sherman said. “It ended up with easy layups for them, essentially getting whatever they wanted.”
Freshman forward Olivia Connors, a marketing communication major, said that in the Lions’ biggest game of the year, they reverted to their worst tendency.
“All year I’ve been saying we’ve had a bad habit of falling down into a big hole at half time and having to claw our way back out in the second half,” said Connors in a phone interview with the Beacon. “And that’s exactly what happened. To me that was our biggest problem. We couldn’t avoid that.”
Connors said she became aware her team wasn’t going to advance in the tournament while she was in the locker room at half time.
“I just looked and we were down by 30, and it was like ‘wow’,” Connors said. “All first half they kept getting consecutive layups and hitting shots. I’m still not sure exactly what happened. All we could do in the second half was to try and play for some pride.”
Some of the mistakes subsided in the second half, Sherman said, and Emerson doubled its point total from the first.
“We definitely came out stronger,” she said. “It’s just a hard thing to do, especially in that situation, knowing its one game and you’re out, and we put ourselves in a bad spot. We competed but at that point it was too little, too late.”
With just one senior on the team, Kathy Andrade, Gould said there simply wasn’t enough veteran leadership to correct lapses in judgment on the court.
“I think what happened is exactly what we saw all year with all the youth and inexperience and not knowing how to react to the situation,” Gould said. “Instead of adapting to a situation, you panic and don’t know what to do.”
This season Gould started two freshman, two sophomores, and one senior — by far the youngest starting five in the GNAC.
The Lions finished the regular season with a record of 9-17 overall, and 7-6 in the GNAC. And while the youthful mistakes and tough competition made for what the players and coach described as a disappointing season, both said they’re looking forward to what next year will bring.
“In the immediacy of the moment, it absolutely sucked,” Gould said. “Usually you like to balance with a lot of veterans and some younger talent. But while we didn’t always execute perfectly, there were a lot of bright spots. And one of the biggest things is, they’ll have some playoff experience.”