by Tom Utescher
Getting their basketball season underway before the Thanksgiving break, the women of Chestnut Hill College got out to an 0-3 start, but showed signs of progress in these early road games against challenging opponents. After falling to the University of the District of Columbia, 86-51, and New York’s Molloy College, 65-43, the Griffins played a much more competitive contest at the New York Institute of Technology, losing 80-70 to a Lady Bears squad that includes three transfers from NCAA Division I schools.
“We’ve played some terrific competition, but that will make us well-prepared for conference play,” observed new head coach Laura Pruitt, who came to Chestnut Hill after serving as both a player and assistant coach at Dowling College on Long Island.
Commenting on the November 19 clash at NYIT, the new skipper said, “I felt we were the better team for 35 minutes, then we missed foul shots down the stretch, and had too many turnovers. At one point we had four freshmen on the floor.”
In the early going, Pruitt has been trying to give each of her players a chance to display their skills, not an easy task with 16 on the roster. The team’s blend of experience and fresh talent was reflected in the box score from the battle with the Bears.
Junior forward Lindsay Alexander (5’11”), an impact player since her freshman season, scored 15 points and pulled four rebounds, and the Griffins got 10 points and a team-high eight boards from senior Ebony Washington, a six-foot forward who shored up CHC’s inside game when she arrived as a transfer last winter. At the guard spot, junior Marqesah Spicer produced 14 points and a pair of steals.
Two rookies also gave strong performances. Lila Jones’ 12 points and four assists helped her clinch Rookie of the Week honors in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, while fellow guard Tenisha Townsend-Mobley had nine points, five rebounds, and two assists.
Washington and Alexander are team tri-captains this year along with senior forward Ashlen Stayrook, who has been with the squad all four years. The other two seniors on the squad are swing player Aiesha Smith, who averaged four points a game for the Griffins last year, and reserve forward Jenn Delahanty.
Guard Latoya Laing, a junior, appeared in all 26 of the Griffins’ contests last season, averaging over four points per game. Other players back from last year’s squad are the backcourt trio of junior Asha Jones and sophomores Victoria Mazzeo and Megan Shaughnessy.
Alexander and Washington appear to be the constants in the line-up, but aside from that, Pruitt revealed, “I’m the type of coach who tends to go with the people who are playing well, so the girls on the bench have to be ready to go when they get the opportunity.”
As to the overall nature of her team, the new mentor said “We’re a defense-oriented team, and we’ll switch things up and throw a lot of different looks at our opponents. On offense, we’re looking to play team basketball and have a lot of movement off-the-ball.”
One nagging problem in the early games has been a struggle to maintain ball possession.
“It feels like we were leading the nation in turnovers,” said Pruitt, who saw the Griffins give up the rock 32 times in the NYIT game. “Obviously, we need to take better care of the basketball or we’ll be putting ourselves at a huge disadvantage in every game.”
A player who will become eligible in the new year should help with the ball handling chores and the perimeter offense. Freshman guard Olivia Gorczynski is a 1000-point scorer from Bishop McCarrick, which is located in a basketball hotbed in central New Jersey.