As students flooded back to campus for this past week’s White Out overtime victory over Western New England University, the Roger Williams University women’s basketball team has already been in full force.
After a brief in-season break, the Hawks came back ready to start their second half Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) binge. With their home opener postponed, it allowed them more time to regroup, but didn’t do much good. The team opened in Milton, Massachusetts against Curry College and fell a jumper away from a win.
“[Curry] is always a really tough place to play and we hadn’t played in almost a month,” Head Coach Kelly Thompson said. “We were bad. It was a tough game as our first one back and we really didn’t do a good job on either end.”
With 26 turnovers on the day and a mere 34.8 percent of their field goals completed, RWU was not off to a great start.
The loss was enough of a wakeup call for the Hawks, as they’ve managed 9-0 since then, including last Wednesday’s outstanding win against third ranked WNE in overtime. The game started slow for the Hawks, but at the start of the second-half, their toughness began to shine.
“We’ve tried to focus on just getting better every single game, and I think for the first half of January we really did a good job of doing that,” Thompson said.
To start their hot streak, freshman guard Sam Mancinelli was named CCC Rookie of the Week the week of Dec. 11, 2017. Over the three games of the week, Mancinelli averaged eight points and four rebounds. In the head-to-head against Wheaton, she was also able to pick up three 3-pointers to assist the team to a win.
In week 8, senior forward and captain Mariah Nicholas locked in a spot as CCC Player of the Week. With three conference wins on the week, Nicholas soared. Throughout the week, Nicholas averaged 18.7 points and eight rebounds.
This past week, Nicholas earned the Player of the Week honor again with a 19.0 point average on the week against top competitors, Western New England University and University of New England. With these two victories, RWU took first place in the conference standings. This was Nicholas’s fourth recognition, according to CCC.
The Hawks have only a handful of games left in their regular season, and when things should be starting to become instinctive or habitual, something isn’t settling right.
For the past few games, RWU has started to look like a second half team — especially in Tuesday night’s game against Salve Regina University, where the Seahawks managed 37 points off the Hawks defense in the first half alone.
“We are a much better defensive team than that,” Thompson said. “We just have to come a little more focused to start the game because every game we play will be a dog fight now.”
When it comes to playing these teams the second time during the season, Thompson says it is important to stay focused and hone in on how to execute on both ends. Securing the top spot in the conference is not making the process easier for the Hawks as their competitors are playing a tougher game.
“Our seniors need to step up and show this team the way,” Thompson said.
Before postseason hits, all she can hope for is that her players become more consistent. The women have plenty of goals to work toward as time winds down and they’re all aware of how much the little things can help them last through CCC play. Their goals consist of trying to hold teams below 55 points, 10 offensive rebounds, and fast-break points under six per game. For themselves, the Hawks know to put their best effort into remaining under 15 turnovers and above 72 percent from the line per game.
“If we can hit most of those, we’re going to win the game.”