A team’s ability to finish a game might be the key to their success. It is proven that the teams who keep victory within reach until the final minutes and play their best when the clock is winding down are the ones who win on a consistent basis.
Unfortunately for the Albion women’s basketball team, it was their play in the final minutes that ousted them from the MIAA tournament in a loss to Saint Mary’s College Tuesday, Feb. 23.
When the sixth-ranked Lady Brits opened up the game against the third-ranked Belles, they played with purpose: like a team that not only had a chance to win the game, but potentially the tournament as a whole. Albion led St. Mary’s into halftime 32-22 by making 14 out of 27 shots, or 0.519 percent, and remaining persistent on defending and in rebounding the ball. But their mediocre efforts in the second half led them to a season finish that was just that — mediocre.
The Lady Brits’ shooting percentage dropped to 0.346 percent, and their defense fell to an even lower extreme. The Belles went on a 39-27 scoring run in the second half to end the game with a 61-59 win over the Brits. Saint Mary’s proved to Albion the importance of playing hard through every second of the game, and even more importantly at the end of the game.
In comparison of talent, both teams were fairly evenly matched. The Lady Brits entered the game the better defensive team, allowing only 56.2 points per game to the Belle’s 62.4, and Saint Mary’s offensive was averaging close to 15 points per game more than Albion. Though they did give the fans the closely scored playoff-like game they were looking for, I am sure that no Briton in the stands expected their team to fall in the end after the outcome of the first half.
I’m not saying that in all the Lady Brits played horribly in the second half; they maintained consistent shooting, making 0.500 percent of their 3-point attempts, and kept the game fairly low scoring on defense. It was, however, Saint Mary’s aggressive play in the paint that gave them the win.
Though the Belles only made one out of nine 3-point attempts and shot 0.390 percent in the second half, they fought for offensive rebounds and utilized their forwards for points under the basket, showing the Lady Brits exactly why they were ranked third in the conference.
The good news for the Lady Brits is that they do not have a single senior in their lineup, meaning that they can maintain the same roster next season, giving them a good chance to compete in the MIAA. In order to win on a consistent basis, however, they will need to learn to take advantage of having the lead and not playing on their heels late in the game. They have the talent and the experience they need to win the conference — all they need is the conviction.