As the New Orleans Saints showed this past weekend, teams can quickly turn their fortunes around with talent, teamwork and experience. The Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball team (5-14, 1-9 in SCIAC) is starting to develop in those three areas and taking positive lessons away from what has been a difficult season.
The most immediate way in which this season can improve the team in the future is through the experience that the young Sagehens are getting. With only one senior, Deirdre Chew PO, on the roster this year, the team that takes the court next season will be largely the same. Nine Sagehens average more than 15 minutes per game, and four of those players are underclassmen. The playing experience they have gained can only benefit the program down the road.
While Chew leads the team in scoring (17.4 ppg), the Sagehens get contributions from all over the court. Guards Anja Hughes-Stinson PI ’11 and Lara Hughes-Stinson PI ’11 are second and third on the team in points per game with 11.7 and 9.8, respectively.
Asha Gibson PI ’12 is the team’s leader in rebounds, pulling down an impressive 9.7 boards per game.
While there is reason to be hopeful about the future, that doesn’t mean there cannot be exciting moments in the present. The team played its game of the year while many of us were still enjoying winter break when Pomona-Pitzer defeated the fourth-place Whittier Poets 64-61 in an overtime thriller.
Trailing 54-52 with time winding down in the second half, forward Emily Van Gulik PO ’11 stole the ball back for Pomona-Pitzer with only 10 seconds remaining. In their final possession, the Sagehens’ leading three-point shooter Anja Hughes-Stinson got off another attempt from beyond the arc with three seconds on the clock.
The shot missed, but veteran leader Chew grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Down two points with two free throw attempts and the clock showing 0.00, there is no one the Sagehens would have rather had on the line than their lone senior and leading free-throw shooter.
There is no lonelier feeling in sports than being isolated on the court shooting free throws with the game on the line and no time on the clock. If Chew was nervous, it didn’t show as she sank both shots to send the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, the heroes of regulation continued to get the job done as Van Gulik and Chew both scored four points and the Sagehens outscored the Poets 10-7 for a 64-61 victory over the only team to beat then first-place Occidental.
With four conference games remaining, the Sagehens have a chance to end the season on a high note and build some momentum going into the offseason. Third-place Redlands and first-place Cal Lutheran will both visit Pomona-Pitzer at home, where the Sagehens are 5-8. The team will then close out the SCIAC season with trips to Cal Tech and rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, both winnable games.
“I’m excited to see everyone come together and play well both as individuals and as a team in the last five games,” said junior forward Emily Van Gulik PO ’11.
Testimonials from lifelong New Orleans Saints fans give credence to the notion that championships are not one-year affairs but are built off the progress of past seasons. Talent, teamwork, and experience cannot be obtained overnight but take time and patience. While the current results may not be what we hope for, it is important to remember that there are no lost seasons and the hard work is worth it when that dream season is finally achieved.