Two 3-point sharp shooters are helping Emerson’s women’s basketball team open up space down low again this year.
Junior communication sciences and disorders major Elizabeth Horan and sophomore journalism major Eastin Ashby have both been solid—and at times dominant—from 3-point range this season. Horan ranks second in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, knocking down 42.9 percent of her shots from downtown, while Ashby checks in at seventh, hitting 30.3 percent of her 3s.
The mere threat of Horan and Ashby attracts significant defensive attention, according to team captain and junior guard Emily Cameron.
“It definitely opens up the middle for us,” Cameron, a visual and media arts major, said. “It makes the guards have to go out and guard them because they’re hitting their 3s.”
Head coach Bill Gould said he sees the outside scoring translate to points in the paint frequently.
“If I had nobody that could shoot the ball from outside, then they could just triple team anybody that caught the ball inside, and it would be effective,” Gould said.
While both Horan and Ashby are in the upper echelon of the NEWMAC leaderboard, Gould said the two have distinct tendencies. Horan’s production tends to be reliable, according to Gould.
“Elizabeth is a great example of a kid who has a natural shot and practices, so she’s very consistent,” Gould said.
Horan’s finest 3-point outing of the season came Jan. 14 against Clark University, when she hit five of her eight attempts. Horan said she discovered a knack for the shot early in her basketball career and counts on mechanics and mental preparedness to maintain a steady hand.
“The foundation of it is pretty sound,” Horan said. “I try not to think about the misses. If I focus on the misses, then I’ll just keep missing.”
Ashby trails Horan by 13 3s, with eight contests remaining on the Lions’ regular season slate. Gould said Ashby’s production is more sporadic than Horan’s, but he encourages his players to find Ashby on nights that she has a hot hand.
“She feeds off when she does well,” Gould said. “Sometimes, she gets the energy and the adrenaline. If Eastin makes a couple, I’m trying to get her shots because I know she’s getting into a groove.”
Ashby agreed with Horan that overthinking isn’t conducive to success. While Ashby said she works to perfect her mechanics in practice and develop a sort of “muscle memory,” game situations are often more pressure-packed.
“I try to be consistent, but sometimes I think about it too much,” Ashby said. “When I start thinking about it, that’s what really affects me the most.”
Ashby said Gould sometimes designs plays with the intention of putting three points on the board as opposed to two. While the additional tally assists the team, she said the momentum gained also helps.
“If people are knocking down 3s, people go crazy,” Ashby said. “It just gets everyone amped up, so it’s a fun shot to make.”
While Horan and Ashby have shown signs of brilliance in the first half of the season, Gould said he’s still working with the entire team to improve their understanding of opponents.
“Being able to slow the game down and recognize what they’re trying to take away, and how they’re playing, is oftentimes easier said than done,” Gould said. “That’s a learning curve that they’re still working on.”
After shooting 31.3 percent from 3-point range last season, Gould’s squad enters their final stretch converting 30.3 percent of their 3s as a group, good for second in the NEWMAC.
The Lions (7-10, 4-6) will travel to Connecticut to meet the United States Coast Guard Academy (9-8, 6-3) in NEWMAC action Saturday.