Upperclassmen Leadership, Depth Paying Off For WPI Women’s Basketball
By Matt Noonan
Following their second New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) victory of the season on Wednesday, WPI women’s basketball head coach Cherise Galasso admitted she was content with her squad’s victory, but knows her team’s season is far from over.
The Engineers are off to an impressive start, winning six of seven games, including four straight, dating back to last month. WPI begins a six-game road trip tomorrow when they travel to MIT, which has won three of five contests thus far.
“The key for us has been our preparation and focusing on getting better every day,” said Galasso.
“Staying in the moment, not getting too high or too low, and we try to focus on process versus the outcome. I think if we can buy into that mentality, the system and each other then we have a chance to truly compete at a higher level.”
WPI has clearly ‘bought into the system,’ relying on every player to contribute, both on offense and defense. Sophomore Ama Biney, who also competes for the Engineers’ softball team, leads WPI with 69 points, including nine trifectas. Classmate Stasha Greenalch and senior Lisa Mendez have proven they can connect from beyond the arc, netting six triples, respectively.
On defense, junior Tess Nogueira leads the unit with six blocks, while Biney has snatched 31 defensive rebounds. Junior Priscilla Dunphy has recorded the most rebounds – 41 boards to be exact – while Nogueira has helped the team set-up second or third opportunities with a team-high 19 offensive caroms.
“It’s been pretty exciting for us to see different players stepping up each night whether it’s on the boards or with steals or assists and scoring,” said Galasso.
“We thought coming into the season we had the potential to be pretty deep and be able to utilize various lineups in each game. I think that is still a work in progress for us with so many players stepping into new roles, but our upperclassmen have done a terrific job of setting the tone and being consistent with the little things we value in our system, especially on defense.”
WPI’s upperclassmen will be counted on over the next few weeks as the Engineers look to continue their early season momentum.
Following their visit to MIT, the Engineers will make a short trek to Fitchburg State next Tuesday, December 8 before competing in the Daytona Shootout on Sunday, December 20 and Monday, December 21 against King’s (Pennsylvania) and Alvenia (Pennsylvania) in Dayton, Florida.
The Engineers conclude their six-game trip with visits to Simmons College on Saturday, January 2 and Wellesley College on Wednesday, January 6 before returning home to face Wheaton College on Saturday, January 9.
“This group has done a great job of not looking ahead and not looking back. They are a very motivated team who really care about each other, so I don’t think it will be hard to keep them focused (during this six-game stretch),” said Galasso. “I think getting positive results has helped, but this next stretch will be a good challenge.
“Overcoming adversity is what it’s all about, so we will focus on what we can control and keep working on staying positive mentally. If we give energy to each other consistently then we will be able to withstand the tough moments that come up in games whether they are home or on the road.”