As the buzzer sounded and the Emerson women’s basketball team entered halftime with Saint Josephs’ (Maine), players and coaches from each team jogged into their locker rooms.
Except for Emerson’s head coach Bill Gould and assistants Elaine Pagliarulo and Dave Hickey.
For three minutes and 40 seconds — although it may have seemed much longer — Gould spoke with Pagliarulo and Hickey as the trio made its way from the team’s bench on the far end of the court over toward the locker room.
With his team trailing by 25 points, and shooting 25 percent from the field, Emerson had put itself in a huge hole against a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) rival. And a short 20 minutes later, the visiting Monks handed Emerson its fourth straight GNAC loss, 82-46.
“We were completely unaggressive on offense, completely unaggressive on defense, and we just didn’t show up to play in the first half,” Gould said.
Gould also said the Monks were a quality opponent. Saint Joseph’s sits atop the GNAC with a perfect 8-0 record. The Monks have been dominant in those eight wins, defeating their opponents by an average margin of 23.5 points.
“We knew they were a good team, but I don’t know, we just came out flat and weren’t ready to play,” said junior captain Olivia DiNucci. “If we want to be taken serious in the league we have to come out strong or teams are going to think they can step all over us.”
The Lions were missing their tallest player and second leading rebounder and shot blocker in freshman Catherine Cloutier, who was suffering from a concussion. Without the six-footer to patrol the paint, the Monks picked apart Emerson with quick passing and lots of movement off the ball.
“She’s a freshman and she has started every game, so we hope we can get her back soon,” Amy Sherman, a junior captain, said of being without Cloutier. “It obviously hurts a lot.”
Gould felt more than anything the Lions lacked intensity and did not come out ready to play. When it fell behind by 25 points in the first half, Emerson had only committed three fouls, while Saint Joseph’s had shot 62 percent from the floor.
“Not that I’m all about fouling, I don’t want to play hack-a-Shaq defense, but three fouls when the other team shoots 62 percent from the floor? One of those two should never happen,” Gould said. “I don’t mind having three fouls if the other team stinks, and I don’t mind having the other team shoot 62 percent if we’ve done everything we can, but to only have three fouls and to give up 62 percent from the floors means we weren’t playing any defense. We were doing nothing. Not even playing bad defense; we were doing nothing.”
During halftime, Gould said he asked his players to increase their intensity, and come out with more fire. Emerson committed 10 fouls in the second half, and held the Monks to 10 fewer points than they scored during the first session.
“We were down 25, just for pride issues we should come out stronger,” DiNucci said.
DiNucci and Sherman will have to help a young Emerson team regroup as it continues through its GNAC schedule. Emerson is currently in possession of the eighth and final playoff spot, with four conference games remaining this season.
“We talked about it after the game, and we can basically be anywhere from fourth to out of the playoffs,” DiNucci said. “Whether we have the talent or don’t is one thing, but we have to be mentally in it.”