The UMW women’s basketball team went undefeated during the regular season, notching a 16-0 conference record and sweeping the CAC playoffs, while knocking off Marymount and York in two very close games.
The Lady Eagles then defeated Keuka College from New York and Messiah College from Pennsylvania in the NCAA Tournament before falling to George Fox University.
Over a week removed from their elite-8 loss to Portland school George Fox, the team has had a chance to reflect on their extremely successful season.
Despite ending the season with a loss, Capital Atlantic Region coach of the year Deena Applebury believes this year was still a great accomplishment.
“I think they understood that George Fox was the better team, but it’s still difficult to say goodbye to the seniors. There was no disappointment whatsoever, considering the season we had,” said Applebury.
The team was led this year by stand-outs senior Jenna McRae and Katie Wimmer, who both averaged 12.7 points-per-game, and led the team in minutes-per-game at around 28. Their classmates Rachel Martin and Claire Brooks also were key leaders to the team both on and off the court.
“Losing the four seniors, we’re losing a huge part of our game,” said Applebury. “Katie and Jenna are two of the best players to ever play here. I’m not sure we’re going to replace them; rather, collaboratively, we’re going to have to make up for losing them.”
Although the Lady Eagles won 30 straight games, the season still had its fair share of difficulties.
“One of the biggest struggles that we had was dealing with the pressure from being undefeated,” said McRae. “It was internal pressure that we put on ourselves to be perfect every game, and if we weren’t, we beat ourselves up about it sometimes.”
Despite this pressure, the team was able to consistently win their games.
“The best way to describe this team is that they are determined to not lose,” said Applebury. “They fought hard and were prepared every night, which is especially impressive when every team is giving their best effort against you.”
As a squad led by seniors, the team strove to finish the season in a way they could be proud of.
“Our goal coming into the season was to have no regrets. Every year previously we ended the season earlier than we think we should have, especially last year [losing in the CAC semifinals]. Last year’s ending was really our motivation for everything because we did not want it to happen again,” said McRae.
Certainly, this goal was accomplished, as the girls grew as a team and peaked at the right time of the year. The team finished their season with a gesture of solidarity, as they ended the game in a huddle at midcourt.
“We started this year as a team and ended it in that moment as a family,” McRae said.
The team will look to continue its winning ways next season and beyond.
“We want to be competing for the conference championship and national championship every year, and that’s what we plan to do,” Applebury said.