Sports

The Future is Bright for Women’s Basketball

The women’s basketball team has finally returned from a tough stretch of the season in which five of their last six games have been played on the road. They started the year on a good note, heading into conference play at 7-5 overall and taking down Wesleyan in their NESCAC opener to start off 1-0 in league play.

Since then, unfortunately, Bates has dropped five of their last six games, including five consecutive games in conference play. This downturn has been in large part due to the fact that the Bobcat offense is very top heavy. In conference games this season, sophomores Meghan Graff ’22 and Mia Roy ’22 have averaged 17 and 16 points per game, respectively, but there hasn’t been much production from the rest of this lineup.

Fellow sophomore Ariana Dalia has done a nice job anchoring the paint. She currently leads the team in rebounds and blocks, but she’s had to go up against some of the top post players in the country night in and night out, making it very difficult for her to sustain a high level of play. She has had a few games where she has reached double figures in scoring, but she hasn’t reached this threshold since Jan. 17 at Amherst. Bates will need her to start filling up the scoring column a bit more.

This is not meant to diminish anything that these Bobcats have accomplished this season: Meghan Graff ’22 is currently second in the NESCAC in scoring and she looks to be on pace for a First-team All-NESCAC campaign this year. Mia Roy ’22 is also in the top ten in scoring during conference games, so she has been quite a threat as well thus far.

We’ve also had a chance to see some more future talent by way of rookie Jenna Berens ’23 who cracked the league’s top 10 in blocks, despite averaging only 12 minutes per game.

There’s no question that the focus for this team right now has to be on the offensive end. Bates is last in the NESCAC in points, assists, field goal percentage, and 3-point shooting percentage (not to mention second to last in rebounding), so there is clearly a lot of room to grow.

I say this especially because the Bobcats are second in the league in steals, and they turn the ball over less than anyone except for Williams. They’ve put together some very fine defensive efforts this year and the numbers are there to prove it. They really just need an additional scoring threat or two to take some of the pressure off of the Graff and Roy duo in the backcourt.

The recent struggles have also been a result of a relatively lopsided schedule so far. Bates has already had to face Amherst, Bowdoin and Tufts, each of whom are perennially ranked in the top ten nationally, and this year is no exception. Their games against Colby and Hamilton were winnable, but it’s hard to expect much from a young team when their schedule is filled with national powerhouses.

From here on out their schedule looks a bit more favorable: the Bobcats have two conference weekends left, so they’ll match up with Conn College and Trinity the first weekend with visits from Williams and Middlebury the weekend after. Williams and Trinity are both very talented teams that will certainly pose a threat when they come to Lewiston, but Middlebury and Conn College are teams that Bates needs to beat if they want a shot at appearing in the NESCAC Tournament.

This team has a very strong foundation of young, talented players, and they have a chance to go a very long way. Right now they need time for their players to develop and gain experience playing the grueling NESCAC schedule, so they’re looking to see who (if anyone) is going to step up now to help them in the short run. Down the road this is looking like an awfully dangerous team, the question is how much will we get out of them now?