By Dylan Calloway
The crowd at Packer Hall was modest in size on the night of Thursday, Nov. 10, but it was vocal in its support for the women’s basketball team. The home crowd was rewarded by seeing their Lions bring home a 76-65 win against Swarthmore in a exhibition game that constantly flipped back and forth.
The game was characterized by tough defense, with the Lions forcing plenty of turnovers and blocking several shots.
“Coach puts a huge emphasis on defense throughout practice and games,” junior forward Nikki Schott said.
This emphasis showed in the scrimmage game. The players on the bench kept a chant going while the team was on defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, the focus was on making the extra pass to get open shots.
“If we continue to make the extra pass and pass up good shots for great shots, we will be able to score more as a team,” said sophomore guard Kate O’Leary.
This upcoming season brings on some changes, as the team only has two returning starters from last year: senior guard Kim Dana and junior guard Charlotte Schum. The starting lineup is rounded out by O’Leary, Schott and freshman forward Jen Byrne.
“I do feel pressure to step up into a bigger role, especially because we lost three starters,” said O’Leary. “But I feel I can do it because I know I have the support of a great team.”
The beginning of the season also marks the beginning of coach Dawn Henderson’s final season. Since becoming the head coach in 1993, Henderson has only coached one losing season, won five New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Coach of the Year Awards, and brought the College to an NCAA Final Four run in the 2008-09 season.
“It gives us a lot of motivation to win a championship,” O’Leary said about Henderson’s retirement.
“The traditions she has established will continue on,” said Schott. “We are working hard to make this her best season.”
With the thought of making Henderson’s last season a memorable one in mind, the women’s team has its sights on becoming NJAC champions. The current prediction by an NJAC poll is that the team will rank fourth once the season is done with, behind Stockton, Montclair State and Kean universities.
The Lions will start their season away at the Gwynedd Mercy Tip-off Tournament, starting off against opening round opponent Salisbury University. Their first home game will be on Tuesday, Nov. 22, against Rutgers-Camden University.