Tartans take a bite out of the big apple

First-year guard Gabrielle West, number 21, is averaging 12.6 points per game, the second-highest for the Tartans this season. (credit: Tommy Hofman/) First-year guard Gabrielle West, number 21, is averaging 12.6 points per game, the second-highest for the Tartans this season. (credit: Tommy Hofman/)

After winning five of its first 10 non-conference games this season, the women’s basketball team is making improvements from last season’s 2–23 record.

The start of the University Athletic Association (UAA) conference, however, was a reminder that the Tartans and new head coach Jacqueline Hullah still have a long road ahead of them before returning to the upper echelon of the UAA.

The women’s basketball team has continued its struggle to find conference success as the team lost its first five UAA games, which included losses to three top-10, nationally-ranked teams: University of Chicago, University of Rochester, and Washington University in St. Louis. In those five games, the Tartans were outscored by an average of 22 points.

According to first-year guard Gabrielle West, the team’s focus is finishing the remaining month of the season on a high note.

“The mentality of the team in this final month of the season is one of hunger,” West said. “We have come so far and learned so much from the beginning of the season to now, and we really want to put all of the finishing touches together to get some wins in our conference.”

This past Friday night, that hunger was momentarily satiated as the Tartans earned their first conference win of the season and broke their four-game losing streak with a 65–48 win over New York University. The win moved the Tartans to an overall record of 7–10.

Leading the offensive attack against the NYU Violets were West and junior forward Emily Peel.

West finished the game with 15 points, while Peel led with 18 points. Sophomore guard Jacqueline Shaw also had quite a night, recording her second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 boards.

In order to carry the momentum from Friday’s contest into the season’s remaining games, the team will rely on defensive consistency and look to leading scorers Peel and West to maintain their shooting inside the paint and beyond the arc.

Peel is among the top 10 in eight statistical categories of the UAA, which include her 15.5 points (second), 9.8 rebounds (second), and 1.9 blocks (first) per game. She has also been named the UAA Athlete of the Week two times this season and has even gained a place on the Team of the Week. The website recognizes top performances on the basketball court across Division-III colleges.

Guided by the leadership of Peel and other upperclassmen, West has quickly made the transition to college-level basketball and has found a way to make consistent contributions to the Tartans, especially on the offensive end of the floor.

“At this caliber of play, most of the game is mental,” West said. “At the end of the day, you just have to go out on the court and play basketball for the love of the game.”

West is second on the team in scoring, with 12.9 points per game. Her 40.2 percent shooting from beyond the three-point line is ranked second on the team as well.

The Tartans return home this weekend to open up the second round of conference play.

The stage will be set on Friday and Saturday in Skibo Gymnasium for rematches against NYU and Brandeis University, which the team faced yesterday in a 56–67 loss.