Christmas break has done wonders for the Messiah women’s basketball team. The Falcons have been on a roll since their trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, winning eight of their last ten games.
According to d3hoops.com, two of the Falcons’ wins were against top teams Albright College and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The hot streak has brought the women’s basketball team to second in the Commonwealth conference behind Albright. “The two wins in Florida over a very good Salisbury team and a nationally ranked (Wisconsin) River Falls team gave us confidence,” states head coach Mike Miller.
Miller has his team playing as well as any team in the conference, and much of that has to do with defense. According to GoMessiah.com, the Falcons are forcing 24 turnovers a game and holding teams to 37% shooting from the field. The Falcons are also averaging over 11 steals per game. This all falls into Miller’s plan to “out energy” other teams; Miller has done so by going deep into his bench and playing 13 different players in the first half.
Holding other teams’ leading scorers at bay has also been an accomplishment for the Falcons this year. The Falcons held one of Albright’s leading shooters, Shannon Thomas, to two points on 1-4 shooting from the field.
“Chemistry and off the court stuff is what helped us start our streak and gain confidence,” Miller says. The Falcons were on an eight-game winning streak before losing against Lebanon Valley College. However, Miller feels the off-court bonds of the team have enhanced their play on the court: “The number one thing that has turned us around is that everyone trusts each other, and nobody gets bent out of shape if they have a bad game or a bad moment.”
Miller praises his players’ ability to stay within their roles and do what’s best for the team.
“Gil has really found her joy and she’s a natural leader,” Miller states about his junior captain Gillian Glackin. Glackin has led the team with over eleven points and eight rebounds per game.
“All three sophomores started to play freer, and they’re all talented,” Miller says of his second-year players Jen Fairbanks, Kaitlyn Hoff, and Hannah Brown. “The seniors have stepped up,” Miller continues. “Maria [Rumberger] even now is leading a scout team and is really encouraging.”
Miller and the Falcons will look to improve their 7-3 conference record at Albright this week before coming home next week against Hood.