Morgan Golliver, Staff Writer
Despite a slow start to the 2016-2017 season, the Utica College women’s basketball team began Empire 8 conference play, looking to overcome its 2-7 record.
When asked about team preparation for conference games and if it was any different than non-conference games, junior guard Ashley Mayo said, “We treat every game equally, but we know that conference games are more serious and know that we can’t really afford to lose them.”
“We strictly focused on completing a 40-minute game, making sure we play consistent in both halves,” Assistant Coach Kayla Kibling said. “ We had one of our starters go out with a concussion four games into the season, so we’ve had a lot of our freshman step in to give our starters a break.”
In the first two conference games against Stevens and Hartwick, the Pioneers struggled offensively as they shot an average of just 29.3 percent in the two defeats, and allowed their opponents to shoot 60 percent at the free-throw line.
After losing the first two conference games, the team decided to change their focus around in practice to prepare for their next Empire 8 opponent, Alfred.
“We already knew that Alfred had a good scoring player, so we worked on zone defense over man-to-man,” Mayo said. “We also needed to make sure everyone was mentally stable and that we were able to communicate with each other when it came to ball distribution.”
“We worked strictly on shooting drills, making sure we were consistent in making shots to improve our shooting as well as holding our opponents on defense,” Kibling added.
The Pioneers went on to win the game against Alfred as well as the following games against Nazareth and Elmira where they improved their shooting to 40 percent, including a 20-point game from junior guard Ashelyne Babb.
As the Pioneers go into upcoming Empire 8 games throughout the remainder of the season, Mayo says that she hopes the team continues to play consistently and is hoping to see wins over lower teams in the Empire 8 conference.