Women’s basketball focuses on defense after break

by Claire Nobles / Beacon Staff • January 21, 2015

Kelsey Johnson (left) practicing with teammate Maria Santora (right).
Kelsey Johnson (left) practicing with teammate Maria Santora (right).

Though the women’s basketball team lost both of its December games in St. Thomas, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, head coach Bill Gould said he was happy with his team’s performance.

“It was the best 0-2 trip we’ve ever had,” said Gould. “The two teams we played were outstanding teams, and we were still competitive. I think the team was able to say [after the games], ‘We might have something going on if we play right.’”

The Lions, who also volunteered in the community during their St. Thomas trip, are 4-4 in New England Women and Men’s Athletic Conference play, and 9-7 overall. Their four conference wins already match their total NEWMAC wins from last year.

“We definitely have a more versatile team [compared to last year’s],” said junior guard Janissa Delzo. “Our defense has definitely improved. In practice, we go over a lot of strategy, and I think the difference is this year we’re executing it.”

Gould agreed with Delzo and said the team’s success to date cannot be attributed to just one player.

“Every game, someone stands out,” he said. “We’ve had a really good balance, which has been part of our success. It’s hard [for other teams] to figure out how to defend us.”

So far this season, the Lions are averaging 59.9 points per game, up from last season’s average of 54.3.

The team’s defensive goal percentage is lower than every other college basketball team in the country, including all men’s and women’s divisions. The Lions have allowed just 28.5 percent of their opponents’ field goals to score, which is the lowest in the country, according to the NCAA website. 

“If we could even stay near the top [at the end of the season],” said Gould, “it could be a huge accomplishment.”

Last season’s team had a defensive goal percentage of 34.5 percent, according to the Emerson Athletics website. 

The Lions have just one out-of-conference game left in the season, and eight matchups against NEWMAC opponents. The Lions will play at Springfield College, currently ranked first in the NEWMAC, on Jan. 24. Emerson lost both games against the team last season.

“It’s definitely going to be tough,” said Delzo. “We’re taking it one game at a time, playing every game like it’s a championship.”