In the midst of a season full of nail-biting conference games, the Lions were able to catch their breaths on Jan. 24 as they blew out visiting Simmons College, 79-54. The team coasted to its largest margin of victory over a GNAC opponent this season.
Forced to play without senior guard Maude Okrah, who was away for personal reasons, the Lions hardly missed a beat as they dominated the game both on offense as well as defense.
“Defensively we knew without Maude we all had to step it up,” said sophomore Kathy Andrade, who contributed 11 points and a team-high 32 minutes. “But we showed the great thing about our team, that it’s not just one payer, it’s all of us.”
As a team they finished with 46 percent shooting from the field. They combined their successful shooting with a suffocating defense that produced 19 turnovers and 34 defensive rebounds. Thanks in large part to a dominating 16-point, 15-board performance by junior center Lauren Zaniboni, the Lions were able to jump out to a 22-point lead at halftime, and they took off from there.
Perhaps the most important thing for the Lions was not only their consistency throughout the game, but between the starters and the bench. The Lions were seamless in their play no matter who was on the floor. Each player on the team logged at least 15 minutes, including freshman Rachel Kaye, who contributed 12 points off the bench.
“We only have eight players, so the bench is pretty important,” said Kaye, a broadcast journalism major. “Our team was really riding momentum, so by the time I got in the game, it was leaning in our direction anyways. Our inside game was working, our outside was working-so all I had to do was keep it going.”
The bench, led by Kaye, was instrumental in the team’s victory, notching 20 of Emerson’s 79 points on the night. Thanks to that consistency the Lions were able to not only hold their halftime lead, but add to it en route to their 25-point blowout.
“Any time you can get big minutes from your bench players, it really helps,” said Head Coach Bill Gould. “Especially in a conference game like this, when you can put the young players in it really helps the team as a whole. It makes everyone’s job easier when the bench can produce like they did tonight.”
As with every game, the business starts on the glass and in the paint, a place the Lions controlled from the very beginning. Led by 14- and 15-rebound days by Zaniboni and Lauran Vassallo, respectively, the Lions were able to out-rebound the Sharks 54-36, translating into one of their most complete victories yet this season.
“That’s so crucial for us,” said Gould. “Our main goal is for our guards to spread the floor, and that’s where it starts. We took everything they were giving us, and because we were hitting our shots, we kept scoring in just about every way we wanted.”
Emerson will look to continue their momentum after taking down a Simmons team that had won five of their past seven games, acknowledging that practice does make perfect.
“Simmons was a huge game for us,” said Andrade. “They have been playing great, and beating them proved to us that we are just as good and even better. We tend to start games off timid and not aggressive, and coach has been stressing that from day one. We finally showed we can do that, and well.”