Beehler, Bears look to bounce back
After experiencing unprecedented early success the last few seasons, the Washington University women’s basketball team had become accustomed to steamrolling through their first several games.
That all changed last weekend against Johns Hopkins University in the championship game of the McWilliams Classic. After falling behind by as many as 18 points, the Bears fought back valiantly in the second half before eventually falling by a score of 77-72.
“When we started bouncing back we were having fun and were in people’s faces,” said sophomore forward Danielle Beehler. “There were a lot more smiles on the court. We need to get to the point where we can hype ourselves up and we definitely didn’t. We’re known as a second-half team and we need to start playing like a 40-minute team.”
Given a full week to regroup, the Bears will look to rebound this weekend at the Saint Mary’s College Roundball Classic. Up against Calvin College in their first game, the Bears should come away with a victory if they come out to play. However, they need to be careful not to lower their guard because of Calvin’s 2-2 record. After dropping their first two games, Calvin has won their last two and seems to be in a groove.
“The Hopkins’ game opened our eyes and helped us realize that any team can win on any given night,” said Beehler. “This early loss will motivate us for the rest of the season.”
The team will rely heavily on the play of Beehler, who was recently named the University Athletic Association (UAA) women’s basketball athlete of the week. Hot as of late, Beehler has averaged 16.3 points and 13 rebounds in the Bears’ last three games.
“We knew she would be an important player for us this year,” said sophomore forward Alicia Herald. “Then when she earned the role of a starter she held her own and proved that she is going to be one of our team’s leading producers.”
Rather than forgetting the Johns Hopkins loss and preparing for this weekend’s games as they normally would, the Bears are calling on their early-season defeat for motivation. As senior guard and captain Sarah Mullen said in the locker room immediately following the Johns Hopkins game, “All good teams lose. Great teams bounce back.”
With this in mind, the Bears have focused on improving overall team attitude in particular, which includes teammates offering one another constant encouragement. The Bears have also started to concentrate on getting pumped up for practice in order to increase intensity. In order to do this, Coach Nancy Fahey has her team go through pre-game warm-ups before every practice.
“Practices are more intense,” said Beehler. “From now on, we’ll be picking each other up. When one girl is down, the rest of us will be there to support her. In the game we’re going to communicate more and be more intense. I feel sorry for anyone who’s in our way.”
Technically, the Bears have been focusing on defensive transition during their week off. Additionally, Coach Fahey is looking for her players to make more sound decisions with the ball and has addressed what her team should do when their shots aren’t falling.
If all goes according to plan and the Bears are able to get back on the winning track this weekend, Coach Fahey’s squad should have an easy time for at least a few more games. With only four more early-season match-ups against traditionally weak teams from the St. Louis area, the Bears look primed to streak their way into conference play.
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