Last Saturday’s women’s basketball game ended the same way the previous 22 did, with the University of Mary Washington coming out on top with their perfect record intact.
“We’re not thinking about wins and losses, we just want to get out there and play the best that we can play,” UMW head coach Deena Applebury said. “We just told the kids if and when we lose, let’s make it be to a team that deserves to beat us. Let’s not make it be because we slipped up and just didn’t come in ready and prepared to play the game.”
The Lady Eagles traveled up to Pennsylvania on Feb. 11 to battle York College, and Applebury’s team led wire-to-wire to capture the 54-48 victory over the second-place Spartans. The win secured the top-seed for UMW in the upcoming Capital Athletic Conference Tournament, ensuring the Eagles will have home-court advantage throughout the event.
Mary Washington set the tone early against York, jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead after the first three minutes of play. Both offensives continued to sputter as the half wore on, as UMW led a defensive slugfest 11-4 at the midway point of the opening half. The scoring pace picked up a bit for both sides after the slow start, but the Eagles still managed to take a four-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
UMW never relinquished their advantage in the second half, stretching out their lead to as many as 13 points in the vital road win over their conference rival.
Mary Washington dominated the glass just as they’ve been prone to do this entire season, winning the rebounding battle 52-37.
“Rebounding is something that I definitely put an emphasis on as one-and-done,” Applebury said. “We’re not going to stop a team from shooting, but I hope to only give them one shot and limit their offensive rebounds.”
The Eagles rebounding didn’t just restrict the Spartans offense, but it boosted their own, as UMW pulled down 18 offensive boards. Those extra possessions the Eagles created were crucial to their offense, which struggled as a whole on the afternoon with Mary Washington shooting just 34 percent from the field.
Applebury’s squad didn’t create their usual abundance of turnovers, but their stellar defense still forced tough, contested shots for the Spartans, who connected on just 30 percent of their field goal attempts.
Seniors Katie Wimmer (16 points and six rebounds) and Jenna McRae (nine points, six rebounds and five assists) were productive as always in the win, while junior Carol Dye stepped up and was also a major threat for UMW. Dye matched Wimmer’s line of 16 points and six rebounds, but the junior center was more efficient in her output, shooting over 53 percent in the contest.
“Carol definitely stepped up and had a great game,” Applebury said. “She shot well, she played great defense, she rebounded the ball well and just played good overall basketball.”
Though the season has been filled with nothing but success to this point, the Eagles are still looking for places where they can tighten up things and become that much more formidable.
“We need to improve on the little things though,” Dye said in an email. “Meeting the passes, following your shot, communicating on defense and getting your hand in the shot pocket. The little things add up and create a very successful team.”
With the regular season winding down, an undefeated season is becoming more and more of a real possibility. Yet Applebury said that the team can not be concentrating on that overarching benchmark right now.
“[The undefeated record] has to creep into our minds a little bit, there’s no doubt about it,” Applebury said. “But again, we can’t put the focus or the emphasis on that because we can’t overlook any one opponent or we will slip up.”
The women’s basketball players are trying to take their coach’s advice and resist the temptation to dwell on that possible achievement that they hope to attain.
“We of course want to finish undefeated,” Dye said. “We’ve worked so hard to be where we are at right now, but [we must] continue to work harder each day at practice. None of us want to settle or be content with anything.”
The Lady Eagles were in action at home last night against Stevenson University for senior night. Mary Washington dominated both sides of the ball winning 64-30. The women’s basketball team will next take the court in their final regular season game of the year when they travel to Dover, Del. to take on Wesley College this Saturday at 2 p.m.