The Lions lost their leading scorer, rebounder, and best all-around player from last year, senior Kristen Brice, to an eye injury in the first half of their first game of the year. She played just 11 minutes, and did not play again in either the first or second game of the season.
In her absence, women’s basketball split its first two games of the 2014-2015 season, played Nov. 15 and 16 as part of the Tip-Off Classic tournament, held in Emerson’s Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym.
Various members of the team stepped up to beat Keuka College in the first game, 74-53, but ultimately missed Brice’s presence in the tournament’s championship game against St. Catherine University, 59-47.
“As a group, I think we were a little out of sorts because Kristen [Brice] wasn’t in,” said head coach Bill Gould, who began his 14th season as Emerson’s women’s basketball coach Saturday. “That threw us off our game and forced us into uncharacteristic mistakes.”
Entering the second half tied at 29 against St. Catherine, Emerson scored just 18 points in the final 20 minutes.
“The team we ended up losing to had a transfer and two kids that were injured last year—they were much better than they were last year, and better than we anticipated,” said Gould, who had said a sweep of the tournament was likely for Emerson in a prior interview with the Beacon. “As it turns out, they were a legit team, so there wasn’t any disappointment in losing to them.”
Among the Lions’ top performers were juniors Kelsey Johnson, who started in Brice’s absence against St. Catherine and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Janissa Delzo, who averaged 9.5 points in the two games, and guarded both teams’ best players.
“I take pride in my defense and my team’s defense. Unlike offense when you may be having an off day, defense is an area you have control over,” said Delzo, a forward. “In terms of our team’s performance, we have plenty of time to make changes before [conference] play begins.”
The Lions, who swept the same tournament to start the 2013-2014 season, won their third game against Fisher, 86-47, on Nov. 19, and will play next on Nov. 25 against Wheelock.
Their conference schedule begins on Dec. 3, a home game against Wellesley, whom the Lions upset last year for one of their three conference wins.