Women’s Basketball turnaround among best in NCAA

Sophomore guard Olga Petrova led the Rams in 3-point shooting at 40.8 percent. Photo by Erin Edgerton

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

Last season, Women’s Basketball went 7-22, finishing 11th in the Atlantic 10 standings. Over the summer, the players knew something needed to be different: the way they practice.

“We came into the summer [last year], and the overall theme was to get better and to be more competitive in our practices,” coach Beth O’Boyle said. “And I think that’s something our player’s mindset over the summer was very clear on those, and we were very consistent with it.”

Fast forward a year later, and the Rams (24-10, 13-3 A-10) practically flipped their record from a year ago and finished the regular season atop the A-10 standings, earning the regular season title for the first time in program history.

The 17-win improvement was historic as it falls in the record book as the 14th-best turnaround in NCAA Women’s Basketball history.  

“That we’ve got a top-20 change, I’m obviously proud of that,” O’Boyle, who was named A-10 Coach of the Year, said. “Even though we were experiencing that failure and we weren’t getting the results that we wanted, we held each other accountable for it and we went into our summer with that mindset to get better.”

The Rams also appeared in the A-10 championship game for the first time, ultimately falling to Fordham 62-47 March 10 in Pittsburgh.

A year ago, there were no seniors on the roster and five underclassmen started for the Rams. O’Boyle said the growth over the summer and throughout last year helped the Rams improve this season.

“They were in a whole bunch of games, even to the end with the playoff game at Saint [Joseph’s] — it was a battle,” O’Boyle said. “And you just talk about all the experience that they got and you take that experience and you put it on the court this year. That was great growth for us.”

The team also took more time studying the scouting report prior to each game this season, looking for ways to improve.

“I think the one thing that really stood out to us was how our players really wanted to be on top of the scouting report, and how much they bought into wanting to be the best defensive team in the country, saying ‘What do we need to do?’” O’Boyle said. “They would take that information and really apply it to the next game. I think that was a great growth from last year to this year.”

The Rams played in the WNIT this March, but were eliminated by Virginia Tech in the second round. The Black and Gold earned a first-round win at home, knocking off Charlotte 65-52 March 21.

As the Rams look to next season, they will not lose any players to graduation and will have the opportunity to grow from the postseason experience this season.

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