By MONICA OWENS
For the University of Mary Washington’s women’s basketball team, the CAC Semifinals are the beginning of the end. A season’s worth of hard practice and fine-tuning comes down to the final buzzer as the Eagle women prove their worthiness of making it to the NCAA Tournament.
Despite obstacles facing the team, junior Amanda Bates remains confident in their ability to win.
“Now it’s like ‘do or die,’” she said. “We are really looking forward to this it’s what you practice for all year, so we are really excited to play”
Tuesday night, the Eagles faced off against Gallaudet University in CAC action, improving their winning streak to 20 straight. Their season record now stands at 24-2.
Despite Gallaudet’s pressing offense, which shot 47 percent from the floor in the first half alone, the Eagles gained a nine point lead with 7:29 remaining and held onto their advantage for the remainder of the half, exiting the court with a 46-19 lead.
The Eagles shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, and senior Debbie Bruen tallied 16 points in merely 14 minutes, setting the pace for her fellow Eagles and letting the Bison know which team was in it to win.
Junior Liz Hickey was happy with the way the girls came together and quickly worked out a plan for victory.
“We realized that and pulled as a team and decided that we wanted to watch any retreat fouls on the offensive end,” she said. “And we were able to foul a few of their players out, so that was good.”
In the second half, the ladies came back even stronger, keeping their lead and upping the ante, shooting 64.5 percent from the floor. Although the Bison didn’t give up their fight, the Eagle women proved that they were not ready to quit.
Bruen led the team’s scorers, with a total of 22 points throughout the game, followed by junior Leigh Kampman and senior Lisa Tracy, who scored 12 points a piece. Sophomore Katie Clarkin, who added 11 points for the Eagles, was closely trailed by freshman Ashley Reed and sophomore Ashton Mitchell, who each tallied 9 points for UMW.
Junior Liz Hickey boasted eight points for the Eagle women, while Bates and freshman Brooke Davies each contributed seven points to the game. The Eagle’s closed the game with a 59 point lead, with a final score of 100-41.
According to Kampman despite Gallaudet’s notoriously aggressive manner, the Eagle’s had no difficulties picking up their game and spinning it to their advantage.
“They were definitely aggressive but we knew in order to be successful we had to pick it up our selves,” she said. “Driving to the basket forced their defense to react and created better shot opportunities for us.”
Head Coach Deena Applebury acknowledged the team’s utilization of new plays as a key asset to their victory, and remains proud of their ability to step up to the plate and take over the game.
“We played at a level which we knew were capable of and did our best,” she said. “This was a prep game; it enabled us to run some new plays and got us ready for the upcoming CAC Tournament.”
She remains very excited about the rest of the season and is confident that the Eagles will do well.
According to Tracy, Tuesday’s contest against the Bison paved the way for future CAC contests.
“[Gallaudet] got us ready for our game versus Salisbury on Thursday because they are a good team and with it being the CAC semifinals, they have nothing to lose,” she said. “Salisbury is going to come out hard and ready to play and we just have to do the same.”
Debbie Bruen agreed.
“We are pumped to play the next game and hopefully win. And then go to championship,” she said. “But it always a good when you play an aggressive team and win cause from then on out it is so much easier.”
The Eagles will continue their path to the NCAA Tournament when they face off against Salisbury University on Thursday night.