Boyle, Madden deliver strong performances in Puerto Rico

The+women%27s+team+went+1-1+in+its+two+matches+in+Puerto+Rico+over+winter+vacation.+

Media: Courtesy of Dan Toner

The women's team went 1-1 in its two matches in Puerto Rico over winter vacation.

By Ethan McDowell

The women’s basketball team had no time for sightseeing the day they landed in Puerto Rico for a tournament in San Juan. After the Lions grabbed their bags, they immediately headed for the practice court. 

Despite playing in unfamiliar territory, head coach Bill Gould said the team focused on basketball from the moment they arrived. The team did not travel together, and Gould said this caused some problems.  

“We had been on break for 10 days,” Gould said in an interview with The Beacon. “Some people were taking the red-eye, it was brutal. We practiced for an hour, and the next day we played a game.”

Junior guard Rachel Davey said the quick turnaround from winter break to the games made the adjustment to the tournament difficult. 

“It was hard because we were coming right from home after having a week off,” Davey said. “We practiced really hard before we left, and then when we got down there, we had to really focus. We had only one day to practice and focus on the fundamentals and stuff so that we could get our touch back.”

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The Lions played the University of Massachusetts Boston in the first game of the tournament. The distance between Emerson College and UMass Boston is 3.6 miles, but on Dec. 28, the Lions traveled 1,678 miles to play the Beacons at Colegio Universitario. 

“That was kind of funny,” Davey said in an interview. Every time we talked to people they would ask  ‘Are you playing Puerto Rican teams?’ and we were like ‘No.’ It was kind of funny because they were at our hotel too, but it felt normal.”

The team lost the contest by eight points after UMass Boston outscored them by nine points in the fourth quarter. Junior forward Sam Boyle scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the loss. 

Two days later the Lions bounced back in their second and final game of the tournament by defeating nationally-ranked Messiah College 63-61 in overtime. 

“They play in a great, great conference,” Gould said. “They’re always very, very tough. They were in the Final Four two or three years ago. They were nationally ranked last year, and they were again this year. They’ve traditionally been a real strong team. That was a big win for our program.” 

Senior guard Quinn Madden scored 29 points and recorded nine rebounds in the win. With the Lions trailing 59-60 with 57 seconds remaining, senior guard Kate Foultz scored the Lions last four points from the free throw line. 

“It just showed our mental toughness, especially because we were down at halftime,” Davey said. “We were able to grind and get the lead back in the second half. So it was really promising to show for the rest of the season that we won’t tire out.”

Gould, who has taken the women’s basketball team on trips before, said he really enjoys the experience tournaments provide for his players. 

“It’s not something we can do every year, but we definitely like to do it,” Gould said. “It ended up being a great opportunity for us to kind of get a jump-start on the second semester. I thought it was a great experience for everybody. We had a lot of family that went, so it was really nice for them to be able to spend a little time in a nice area.”

During past trips, Gould said the team engaged with the community by running basketball clinics or handing out t-shirts. He said conflicts with the holiday season prevented them from doing it this year. 

“We weren’t able to do that this year, which I would have liked to have done because I think the kids enjoy that,” Gould said. “It’s a nice thing to do, and you know as a former teacher, I think it’s important that you gain some other experiences while you’re doing these kinds of things.”

Gould said some of the families went sightseeing to historical locations in the area and visited the rainforest. Davey said she enjoyed the overall experience, and the team got closer on the trip.

“It was really nice,” Davey said. “The weather was obviously super nice, and we were all like, ‘Oh, we have to go back to Boston after this.’ It was really good for team bonding.”