With four seconds remaining in the game, forward Kris Brackmann CM ’17 inbounded the ball for the final time. The Athenas, tied 53-53 against Transylvania University in the opening game of the 2015-16 season, were looking for their last chance to pull ahead and start the season off with a victory. Brackmann spotted forward Mara Falahee SC '16 open under the basket. Desperate for the win, Brackmann flung the ball to Falahee, who quickly put it up for the final buzzer-beating basket of the game, earning CMS a stunning 55-53 victory over the Pioneers.
The Athenas (4-1) have continued their success since the epic win, dominating St. Joseph’s College, Hunter College and Willamette University in a four-game winning streak. Center Alyson Young CM ’17 credits the team’s success to its devotion to improve their game and the hard work contributed by every teammate.
“We just have a really strong team,” Young said. “If one person isn’t on a certain night, we have people that will come in and step up. We have a lot of depth in our bench.”
Center Claire Donnelly CM ’17 and forward Kailee Severt CM ’18 have served as strong offensive forces throughout the season, combining for 23 points in the wins against Transylvania and Hunter, and 27 points against St. Joseph’s. Additionally, Severt, who has averaged 14.2 points per game this season, scored 22 points in her spectacular match against Willamette.
CMS has also received defensive support from forward Mara Falahee CM ’16, who has averaged 8.4 rebounds per game this season. As the team’s only senior, the Athenas look to Falahee not only for her athletic contributions, but also for her leadership and work ethic.
“She provides so much guidance and leadership,” Young said about her captain. “She’s willing to give us all she can to take us all the way. Not to mention, she’s one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met on the court or off the court.”
Though the team experienced its first loss against University of Puget Sound Nov. 28, CMS used the game as an opportunity to continue enhancing their defensive technique. For Young, the game reaffirmed the notion that the team has room to grow.
“It showed that we can always get better, so we’ve been working a lot on our transition defense, and keeping our player in front of us,” she said.
Although the Athenas prepare for each specific opponent, they are more concerned with correcting their own fundamental offensive and defensive skills than analyzing their competitors.
Young confirmed that prioritizing their own game has led to the Athenas’ wild success during the past two seasons. Crowned SCIAC champions in the past two seasons, with a 24-win 2013-2014 season and a perfect 18-0 conference record in 2014-2015, the Athenas set the bar high for themselves this year. In addition to replicating their success in the SCIAC conference, the Athenas hope to compete in the NCAA Division III Tournament. In the prior two seasons, the Athenas earned a spot in the event, which has confirmed their status as one of the top 25 DIII women’s basketball teams across the nation.
Young is confident the team can once again qualify for the tournament.
“I have no doubt we will do it again, and I always go into our first-round game thinking we’re gonna win,” she said.
Though the Athenas are motivated and inspired to win the SCIAC conference and compete in the NCAA tournament, the players are currently taking one match at a time. With three matches in the next week against Westmont College, Chapman University and George Fox University, the latter of which is the No. 2 DIII team in the country, CMS can only concentrate on the present.
“Right now all I’m focusing on is game to game,” Young said. “But I have no doubt we can win every game.”