Slow start motivates, Rams ride 3-game win streak

Junior guard Olga Petrova is shooting 30% from the field this season. CT file photo.

Joe Dodson, Contributing Writer

After a 5-8 start, women’s basketball is riding a three-game win streak to open Atlantic 10 conference play in the New Year. That sluggish start to the season allowed coach Beth O’Boyle’s team to learn from the losses, she said. 

“We’re gonna continue to get better, and each one of these games is a learning lesson,” O’Boyle said. “We want to be playing our best basketball in March.” 

O’Boyle was proud of how her team handled the first half of the season, and believes their attitude will help them the rest of the season. 

“When you face some early losses and some difficulty, it’s easy to break apart,” O’Boyle said. “The most impressive thing about our team is that it’s brought them closer together, and that has fueled our great start in the A-10.”

A focal point for O’Boyle and the rest of the program this season has been cohesion. She said leadership is coming from lots of players, not just one person. 

O’Boyle wants her players to remain focused on what’s in front of them. 

“We’re not looking too far down the line,” O’Boyle said. “We just stay focused on that practice or that drill.” 

The Rams’ offensive intensity has been ignited by their defensive ability; the Rams are second in blocked shots and steals in the A-10. 

“Our deflections, our traps and our rebounds, that’s still getting the ball going,” O’Boyle said. 

They have been able to shoot the ball well this season, shooting a 40.7% clip from the field — the fifth-highest field goal percentage in the A-10.

Senior center Danielle Hammond has been an anchor on defense this year. She averages 2.1 blocks, which is fourth in the A-10.

“You look at the presence of Danielle Hammond and what she’s bringing in the paint,” O’Boyle said. “She’s drawing so much attention.” 

At times this season, Hammond has been double-teamed and even triple-teamed by the opposing players.

On the offensive side, Hammond has the highest field goal percentage in the A-10 at 63.3%. Senior guard Nyra Williams has been the key distributor this season, averaging 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals. 

“Nyra is a point guard that just has such great vision,” O’Boyle said. “She has been having great core games for us.” 

Despite a difficult non-conference season, the Rams’ goals have remained the same as they are every season. 

“We want to be at the top of the A-10 and position ourselves to be playing in the postseason,”  O’Boyle said. 

The Rams will be looking to extend their winning streak to four games this Friday when they face their crosstown rivals Richmond at 7 p.m. at the Siegel Center.

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