Women’s basketball is on an absolute tear as of late. On Jan. 11 they beat the Pacific Union Pioneers and are currently riding a four game win streak. The team isn’t just winning, but winning convincingly, to the tune of averaging a 17-point margin of victory over their last four games. The Slugs don’t plan on letting up anytime soon.
“It’s college basketball and anything can happen on any given night,” said head coach Todd Kent. “We’re independent and we don’t have a conference so these are all big games for us, and the kids do a nice job preparing mentally for them. They really want to be ready to go and approach every game like it’s the toughest opponent of the year.”
It was obvious from the opening tip Saturday night the Slugs were the hungrier team. They repeatedly pushed the ball up the court in transition and jumped out to a 23-4 lead before the visiting Pioneers knew what had hit them.
“When we get the rebounds, we just try and pass it out to the guards and get down the court quickly, set the pace and send a message to the other team,” said junior forward Sarah V. Mackey. “Once you put your foot on the gas pedal, it’s time to go.”
This fast-paced style of transition basketball helped the Slugs dictate the tempo of their games and generated excitment from the crowd.
The team is able to execute this style of offense efficiently because they have a “deep bench,” or a team full of athletic and capable players who are ready to sub in at any time in order to keep fresh legs on the court and the ball moving quickly, Kent said.
“We like to control tempo as much as we can,” Kent said. “We feel like we can get a few what we call ‘one game opportunities,’ which are basically one-on-one opportunities out of transition. We like to push it whenever we can.”
The team takes the court with a lot of confidence, not just individually, but with one another as well. They play a very smart and unselfish style of basketball involving eight or sometimes nine passes before anybody attempts a shot. They’re well coached and it shows through their fluid ball movement.
“The kids in this program understand their role is to be a facilitator for their teammates,” Kent said. “We do a lot of stuff in practice with recognition and identifying the opportunities for the scorers on the court to find those matchups. The kids do a nice job playing to that.”
This style of play was especially evident in the Slugs win against UC Merced on Jan. 4, when the team combined for 24 assists on 26 made baskets — a truly remarkable statistic.
The Slugs are now enjoying a two-week break from game play until they face Bethesda Christian at home on Jan. 25. Junior forward Leah Parrish, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday night’s win, said the team needs rest but she’s still aware of the momentum needed to keep up. The team will focus primarily on defense over the break.
“We’re not happy. We’re taking it as a win but we could’ve won by a lot more,” Parrish said in response to their 67-53 win Saturday night. “We need to keep taking everything seriously.”
The Slugs currently hold a record of 12-6 with seven games remaining on the schedule. If the team is able to keep this winning streak alive through their next seven games, there’s a chance they could qualify for the NCAA tournament in March.
Junior forward Sarah Mackey is confident in the team’s tournament chances, and her team-leading 14.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game indicates she’s not playing around. Nobody on this team is playing around, and they look poised to play out their remaining games in a unified and tenacious fashion.