The women’s basketball team lost in the quarterfinals of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference playoffs for the second straight year on Tuesday. The Lions finished their regular season on a six-game winning streak.
The team ended the regular season 17-8 overall and 11-5 in the NEWMAC after a 75-35 win at Mount Holyoke College on Saturday. Emerson ranked fifth out of the eight teams in the playoffs.
Head coach Bill Gould said he saw vast improvements as the season progressed.
“We’ve been continuing to get in better shape,” Gould said. “The kids have worked really hard and are playing with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. Our defense has continued to get better as the season has gone along. It took a little time, but it’s really started to jell together.”
In December, the Lions finished 3-1 against NEWMAC opponents with an 86-77 home victory against second-seeded Smith College. The team went 4-4 in January and suffered tough losses on the road against Babson College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Smith College, and Springfield College.
The Lions won all six of their remaining games after their loss to Springfield. The streak included a triple-overtime redemption victory at home against Springfield and a 14-point win over first-seeded Babson College. Babson knocked out the Lions in the first round of the NEWMAC playoffs last season.
A career-high 36-point outing from senior center Charlie Boyle highlighted the home victory against Springfield. Boyle led the Lions all season by averaging 13.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
While Boyle played well, the team did not rely on one player all season. Junior guard Natalie Clydesdale averaged 8.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, junior guard Quinn Madden averaged 8.2 points and 5 rebounds per game, and sophomore forward Sam Boyle averaged 10.3 points and 5 rebounds per game.
The Lions also received strong minutes from sophomore guard Rachel Davey, junior guard Kate Foultz, and senior guard Natalie Busch.
Davey said the team’s offensive mentality made it a matchup nightmare for opponents.
“At practice, we talk about being aggressive, and there’s no one on our team who can’t score and that hurts a lot of teams,” Davey said.
Davey agreed with Gould on the team’s improvement on defense.
“On defense, we’ve really come together as a team this year,” Davey said. “[We’re] communicating a lot more and doing the fundamentals as a team and that really helps us.”
Gould spoke about the team heading into next season.
“I feel like we are going to have a pretty solid incoming class, and we have some great players coming back and I’m really confident about that,” Gould said. “However, we’re losing two really good players in Boyle and Busch, and anytime you do that, there’s an adjustment period.”
Boyle and Busch will graduate in the spring.
The Lions went undefeated at home in conference play this season, but away games were their downfall. In the NEWMAC playoff quarterfinals, fifth-seeded Emerson lost to fourth-seeded MIT with a final score of 76-58.
The Lions finished the 2018-19 season with a conference record of 11-6 and an overall record of 17-9.