Women’s basketball ready for WCC Tournament
Lady Toreros hold 20-5 record with three games remaining
With all-time University of San Diego greats Johnny Dee and Chris Anderson breaking records and turning heads for the men’s team, the spotlight is frequently shifted away from the even more successful women’s basketball team at USD.
Over the past two seasons, the women’s basketball team at USD has had unprecedented, and often underappreciated, success. The team this year consists of much the same team that began last year with a blazing hot 15-0 start, ranking them among the nation’s top 25 for the first time in school history.
Even though the women’s team advanced to the third round of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) last season, the second most prestigious postseason tournament in college basketball, the team ended the season with a bitter taste in their mouths.
The expectations for these young women and coaches were as lofty as their work ethics, and the team left Madison Square Garden with the loss imprinted on their minds, determined to avenge their defeat in the year to come.
Sophomore guard Katherine Hamilton says the players and coaching staff have used that devastating loss as fuel this season.
“Our coach is constantly telling us how talented we are and how we can do big things,” Hamilton said. “Wanting to live up to those expectations motivates us.”
Just as they did in the previous season, the women’s team began the 2014-2015 season at a blistering pace, losing just one of their non-conference games giving them a record of 10-1. Behind the lights out shooting of junior guard Malina Hood, the team entered conference play full of confidence and with momentum on their side.
The team went on an incredible six game winning stretch before they were finally defeated by conference powerhouse, Gonzaga.
The USD women’s team has not been able to best the Zags in their past 15 tries, spanning all the way back to the 2008 WCC Championship Game. This proved to only be a bump in the road, however, as the team went on another five game winning streak before being beaten in the final minute in a crushing 56-57 loss to Saint Mary’s.
Hamilton spoke about this recent hot streak, citing their preparation before the season as a big factor in the team’s success.
“All the hard work we put in over the summer is paying off,” Hamilton said. “The fact that we like being teammates with each other makes it that much easier to get better every day.”
The team has remained in contention throughout the year with the tops of the WCC, but have found themselves bouncing back and forth between second and third with Saint Mary’s. With a still unbeaten conference record, Gonzaga sits comfortably atop the standings. Unfortunately, however, USD suffered a heartbreaking loss to Saint Mary’s just last week in a 66-68 effort. With that loss, the women’s team relinquished their half-game lead to the Gaels and have moved back down into second place.
Malina Hood has led the Lady Torero’s this year in scoring with a solid 15.5 points per game, as well as grabbing down a respectable three rebounds. Post Sophia Ederaine has also come up huge for the team, averaging just shy of 12 points per game as well as 9.8 rebounds and 4.76 blocks. The Toreros are an extremely deep team with six different players scoring five or more points a game.
The season is winding down with just three games left in the regular season, all of which are to be played at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. The final home stand consists of the tough opponents of BYU, Gonzaga, and lastly Portland. This stretch could be huge for the team if they are able to avenge their loss to BYU, upset the favorite Gonzaga, and handle Portland just as they did this past December, by 22 points.
With the disappointment of last year’s postseason still lingering, the women’s basketball team looks to come into postseason play strong, and hopefully receive an NCAA tournament berth, something which has eluded them since the 2008 season. Will this be the season that the Lady Toreros take the next step and emerge onto the national scene in the NCAA tournament? Hopes are high, but only time will tell.