Looking back at the women’s basketball season: Young Hawks hope to use lessons from losses to succeed in the postseason

Only one game stands between the Hawks and their Commonwealth Coast Conference playoff run.

Over one month ago, on Jan. 5, the women’s basketball team fell to Endicott College, the top seed in the CCC. The loss to Endicott was a wake up call that sparked their eight-game win streak which lifted them to second in the conference.

“This year, I kind of figured this would be our only road to the N.C.A.A. tournament — doing well in our conference run,” Head Coach Kelly Thompson said.

Back on their home court, the Hawks still could not hold off Endicott as they fell again on Feb. 9, this time by only three points.

Though, that wasn’t all they lost.

The second loss to Endicott brought the Hawks down to fourth in the CCC standings, now behind Endicott, the University of New England and Western New England University — their last regular season opponent. If they had won against Endicott, they would have been tied for first with the Gulls.

The Hawks have until Tuesday to prepare for their first playoff game. Before that, they need to continue to focus on a ‘one game and one possession at a time’ mentality that Thompson always pushes for.

“We try not to do much that’s different, we just try to be consistent,” Thompson said. “If you don’t [focus on that], your season is going to end pretty quickly.”

According to Thompson, all her players have been in a championship round before. The goal until playoffs is to make sure the team focuses their energy on the right things.

The Hawks are at a .522 win percentage for the season, which wasn’t what Thompson entered the season hoping for. However, the progress the team has made is something to make note of.

“To see things come to fruition has been rewarding,” Thompson said. “These are the things we wanted to happen and now they’re happening.”

Some of this season’s tournaments marked turning points for the Hawks. In particular, their matchup against the University of Scranton, the sixth team in the nation, was when the team realized that’s where they need to be.

Another loss that Thompson thinks the team learned from was their Brandeis University game.

“It was the one game all year that we really did not perform to our own expectations,” Thompson said.

This allowed the team to see what they needed to improve on after their semester break.

Individual performers stepped up this season, as well.

Freshman Karli Opalka stands out to Thompson as a valuable player for the future of the team. Freshman Emily Yonich has changed the team defensively and sophomore Alyssa Grant has started to show leadership on the court.

“We’ve seen growth in so many people,” Thompson said. “Sam [Leone], Gabby [Jerahian] and Del (Margarita Delaporta) have all improved over the season and I think a lot of it is that as a team we’ve gelled better.”

Going forward, Thompson’s hope is that the connection this young team has made this season continues to pay off throughout playoffs and for the future.