The women’s basketball team ranks fifth out of the 11 teams in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference after finishing the winter break with two wins and two losses.
The Lions defeated Mount Holyoke College and lost to Babson College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to place in the NEWMAC with a record of 4-3. Smith College ranks fourth with a 4-3 record, while three teams—Wellesley University, Clark University, and the United States Coast Guard Academy—have 3-4 records.
Head coach Bill Gould said the team is putting in the effort necessary to climb the conference standings.
“I feel pretty good about where we are at just in the fact that we are competing and improving every day,” Gould said.
Emerson defeated Simmons University 78-41 in a non-conference matchup on Jan. 5. Despite a three-and-a-half week break since their last game, Emerson shot 46 percent from the field while holding Simmons to 29 percent.
The Lions played their first conference game of the season on Jan. 8 against Babson College. Senior center Charlie Boyle scored 14 points while shooting 60 percent from the field, but a quiet fourth quarter and poor shooting from the perimeter led to a 16-point loss.
Boyle said the team’s most significant loss during conference play served as a learning opportunity.
“For both myself and the team, I believe that in high-pressure games like [against] Babson we have to stay calm and collected through all four quarters,” Boyle said.
Following the Babson game, Emerson hosted MIT on Jan. 10. In a defensive matchup where both teams struggled to score, an 8-0 MIT run in the final five minutes of the game secured a 54-43 win for the Engineers.
In their fourth and final game of the winter break on Jan. 12, Emerson defeated Mount Holyoke 79-36 for their most commanding win of the season. All five starters for the Lions scored in double figures while the team shot 13-of-24 from the three-point line.
Gould said the team can boost their chances of securing a higher seed by improving defensively.
“I think we are a strong defensive team, but what I don’t like is that we are giving up too many three-point shots,” Gould said.
Emerson’s opponents have shot 35.8 percent from three-point land this season, the third-highest percentage in the conference. In the losses suffered over winter break, both Babson and MIT found more success from beyond the three-point line than Emerson. Babson buried eight threes on only 12 attempts, while MIT’s four three-pointers proved to be crucial in their low-scoring matchup.
On the other end of the court, Gould said the team’s ball movement has been a bright spot this season.
“We’re very unselfish and we’re executing well, which is great because it shows that the team is playing well together,” Gould said.
Emerson leads the NEWMAC with 16.2 assists per game. Additionally, Gould said the team records an assist on over 70 percent of their baskets whereas most teams hover around 40 or 50 percent.
Boyle’s efficient shooting is a standout advantage for the Lions. She ranks first in the NEWMAC with a 58.8 field goal percentage while her 13.1 points per game trail five other players in the conference.
“I can attribute my field goal percentage to me trusting myself and my shot,” Boyle said.
Gould said Boyle’s shooting comes from a combination of individual skill and selfless ball movement on offense.
“First of all, she’s just a really talented player who has worked hard to get better throughout her career,” Gould said. “She also has teammates that will give up an open outside shot in order for her to take an open shot from inside.”
Upcoming conference games in January include matchups against Smith College on Jan. 19, Wheaton College on Jan. 23, Springfield College on Jan. 26, and a rematch against Babson College on Jan. 30.
Gould said the team’s standing after the Babson game will indicate their confidence going into the postseason.
“The month of January will be a good sign of how we’ll look going into the playoffs,” Gould said. “If we feel good about where we’re at, we have the talent to compete for the conference playoffs.”