Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. - The Whittier College Women's Basketball Program won three of their last four SCIAC contests to finish at 8-8 in the conference. The eight conference victories tie the most conference victories the Poets have reached in the past 15 seasons. "I could not be more pleased with the effort and the resiliency of this team in our first season together. We started 1-9, but closed 8-8 and that doesn't even begin to tell the story of how we have re-set the culture and expectations of the program," Coach Dow explained.
The quartet of Carly Buechler ('17), Emily Underwood ('18), Emilee Dy ('18), and Cali Cubel ('20) emerged as a quality guard rotation and combined with the efforts and production of Ana Youngblood ('17) in the frontcourt as the Poets became a solid team in January and February. Ana's competitive spirit and ability were a source of strength for the Poets throughout the season. Kaylah Alexander ('17) inspired teammates with her toughness around the basket and hit the biggest shot of the season in overtime on Senior Night as the Poets defeated play-off bound Redlands. The Poets had fallen behind by two points when Kaylah drilled a cold-blooded 3-point shot giving the Poets a lead they would not relinquish. Daniza Rodriguez ('17) was an early stabilizing factor to the team with her toughness, energy, and basketball IQ. Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson ('20) and Kate Nakano ('19) were critical contributors to the frontcourt and backcourt respectively. Margo Campos ('18) after a long successful rehab from devastating leg injuries over the past two and half seasons finally made it back to the court in January. It is no coincidence that Margo's return and the Poets improved play were simultaneous.
The non-conference schedule included a contest versus NCAA Div. I CSU-Fullerton, a challenging trip to the Pacific Northwest to play NWC perennial best George Fox and Willamette, and another trip to UC-Santa Cruz which included games at Kaiser Permanente Arena. With four road games, three neutral site games and a lone home contest to open the season the Poets embraced the opportunity to play smart and tough while learning the new style of play. After the short holiday break, games in the Purple and Gold Classic revealed a steadily improving team. "We were having competitive stretches in most games in the early season, but understanding the demand of execution, sustaining effort and intensity before we could be in position to finish games was a process," stated Coach Dow, "and then those ideals came together in the Whitworth game. As we moved into the latter stages of that game the focus to finish the game on both ends was obvious. And telling of this team the remainder of the season was when they were in position to finish a game, they did that despite not having had that experience to draw from in the first nine or so games."
The Poets concluded SCIAC play with sweeps of Caltech, Pomona-Pitzer, and La Verne. The Poets earned hard-fought season splits with Occidental and Redlands while unable to get a victory versus the conference's top three of Claremont-M-S, Cal Lutheran, and Chapman.