Women’s basketball team knocked out of first-round playoff


Sydney Ciardi

Senior forward Katie Beckmann scored eight points and six rebounds against Babson College on Feb. 23

By Tyler Foy, Sports Editor

Emerson’s women’s basketball lost 73-49 against second-seed Babson College in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference quarterfinals, ending the Lions’ season 8-16.

The Lions reached the playoffs for four straight seasons— five times since joining the NEWMAC in the 2013-14 season— but were eliminated in the first round each year. The past two postseasons, they were beaten by the eventual NEWMAC Champions.

Emerson’s regular season ended with an 84-61 loss to Coast Guard Academy—their third consecutive loss by more than 20 points. The Lions squeezed into the NEWMAC playoffs, securing the seventh and final spot in the conference with a 4-6 record. According to D3Hoops, the women’s basketball team had the 23rd toughest schedule out of 427 teams. Coach Bill Gould said the team performed well with the hand they were dealt. 

“My freshmen and sophomores had never played and not one of my kids had ever started a college basketball game,” he said. “We’re probably going to end up with the 23rd toughest schedule in the country out of 427. That’s not nothing. Then some people say ‘look at your record, you didn’t do well,’ That’s crap. I think we did really well.” 

The first encounter between Babson and Emerson took place on Feb. 2 in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker gym and ended with the Beavers winning 69-32. Of the 13 games the colleges have played against each other, Babson has won 12. Their motto, “Defend the Dam,” was in full effect as they were also 7-0 against Emerson at home. With the odds stacked against them, Emerson headed into the match looking to minimize the damage from Babson’s junior guard Megan Bauman— a goal Gould said they succeeded in achieving.

“We knew [Bauman] was their go-to kid and was the kid that killed us in the first game,” he said. “At least make it tough. We knew we weren’t going to shut her down. She’s a very good player. But we could make it tougher and I think we accomplished both goals.”

The Lions entered the game with three injured players on the bench, which Gould said made a major impact on the team dynamic. 

“For all second semester we didn’t have to have Devin [Hill] we didn’t have Annika Herbert and then even in today’s game, we didn’t have Carla Pelino,” he said. “That’s three kids that were impact players for us.”

The game opened with the Beavers scoring the first points on a mid-range jumper which was answered by a layup from senior forward Katie Beckmann. A trip to the free-throw line gave Babson the lead, which the Lions retrieved after a layup from sophomore guard Olivia Deslauriers. After back and forth play continued, a three-pointer from Deslauriers knotted the game at nine. 

Babson fought to get back on top following two consecutive baskets, but a three from sophomore guard Ava Salti brought the Lions within one. A bounce pass from junior center Chloe Allen—who was in double coverage—would find an open first-year Mackenzie Bruno who sank a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to put Emerson in the lead 16-15 through the first quarter. 

The Beavers opened the second quarter with two trips to the free-throw line followed by two layups resulting in a score of 21-16. Gibbons closed the gap with a three-pointer but Babson scored another jump shot to mitigate the damage. Babson started gaining momentum and separating themselves from the Lions. The captains for the Lions, Beckmann and Gibbons, scored a combined nine points in the quarter but Babson got the best of the Lions, entering halftime up 39-27.

Babson scored the first points of the second half on a layup, but Gibbons sank two threes to make the score 41-33—separated by two minutes of play. Babson scored two points before Gibbons sank her third three of the quarter, forcing Babson to call a timeout. Unfortunately, Gibbons was left with all the work for the Lions and couldn’t stop the Beavers from continuing their dominance—leading by 56-36 with a ten-minute quarter left to play.

The game, which was already slipping away from Emerson, would be expanded upon in the fourth quarter. The Beavers completed their sweep and scored to open the quarter. Beckmann scored a layup to end almost an eight-minute scoring drought for Emerson, while Babson scored throughout the period, extending their lead. Sophomore guard Quinn O’Connor scored the last points for the Lions with a layup and free throw, but it wouldn’t be enough.

The Dam held and when the buzzer sounded in the Staake Gymnasium, Babson won 73-49. It marked the end of Emerson’s women’s basketball team’s 2021-22 season.

Gibbons led the game with 21 points, which Gould said was a testament to her development as a player in recent seasons.

“You can’t manufacture that. It’s not a drill that you can do in practice,” said Gould. “I think even though it was the last game, the fact that she did that showed the growth that she had throughout the season in incremental steps along the way.”

Gould said Beckmann carried the team on the defensive end and was forced to play a difficult role but was successful. 

“We put her in a tough spot where we basically said ‘look, you’re going to guard everybody,’” he said. “It doesn’t show up in a stat sheet that somebody was able to stop a kid driving because Katie was there helping. That’s something that I thought she just did and I think she did it really well.”

With just two players graduating, the majority of the team will return to the court for another run at the NEWMAC crown. Gould said he expects the team to continue to develop with more practices and step up in every facet of the game.

“We took baby steps defensively, but we need to get better,” he said. “We need to get better defensively and then we need to build on that. Then offensively they need to get in the gym and practice and get more consistent with their scoring. That’s something that they’re going to do because now they know that what they’ve had to do it’s really difficult.”