Women’s basketball fights to make it back to NAIA national championship

After four months of season play, The Golden Eagle women’s basketball team is trying for a spot in the national tournament where they lost their sweet sixteen game last season.

The team still has a few games of conference play remaining, which will decide whether they will earn another trip to the tournament.

The night of Feb. 10, the team had a 14-9 overall record. They emerged with a victory against the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.  The following Tuesday, the women beat Bacone College on the road.  With these wins, the team gained a greater chance of achieving a top seed for their conference tournament.

This year, the team has 14 players, a slight difference from last year’s roster.  Senior Jana Schammel said that even small changes in the roster create a different team dynamic.

“It was hard to adjust to our reputation we had from last year and going to the national tournament, and finding our new identity as a new team,” Schammel said.

Schammel said wins, such as the one over USAO, are improvements.  “When we played Wayland at that point they were ranked number five,” Schammel said.  “The thing with those wins are we all played together, we all had to contribute so that was really fun.”

Senior Kimmy Deines said, “You never really know who’s going to have the hot hand in the game, but we all get along really well.  The last two or three years, everyone gets along, which kind of brings it on to the court.”

Even when they are on the road, every game brings new challenges for the team.  “It’s been really fun.  Even in big games, different people step up all the time,” Deines said.

The two seniors said they hope for greater support from students at the next home games.  Though the end of the season is rapidly approaching, but there are still chances for students to come support the Lady Golden Eagles.

John Brown University is hosting both men and women’s conference tournament and Deines said the women hope to have their first game at home. However, they will not know until they finish their conference games.

“We know we can make it,” Deines said.  “We know we’re good enough, it’s just going out there and playing four quarters.”

Schammel said that more students should come out even if the women’s team cannot dunk, because the more students attending, the better the atmosphere in the gym.

“We can shoot threes like no other and that’s pretty fun,” Schammel said.  The women average 11 three-pointers per game.

“We’re not ready for it to end yet.  We really want to make it to the tournament and prove ourselves,” Deines said.  “We’ve kind of had a roller coaster ride and making it (to the tournament) would be awesome.”