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With a nine-game win streak, a national ranking of 14th, and sole possession of the UAA’s top slot, 13–3 women’s basketball returns home to host Case tonight at 6 p.m. in Ratner.
In a game featuring five of the UAA’s top nine scorers, defense will likely take a backseat, but the Maroons feel confident in one defensive statistic: rebounding.
“Coach [Aaron] Rousell has stated from day one in practice that rebounding is what is going to win us big games,” third-year guard Bryanne Halfhill said. “At the beginning of the season, he made it clear to the team that if you want to play then ‘get after it on the boards.’ I think Case will be a good match for us on the boards. However, I think they have more to worry about, especially with us having Taylor [Simpson] on the boards!”
Simpson, a third-year forward, easily leads the UAA in rebounding, averaging 9.9 boards a game—2.5 more than her nearest challenger—while Halfhill and fellow 5-foot-9 third-year guard Meghan Herrick both make the UAA’s top 20 despite their small stature.
Case, although fielding a talented forward in Erin Hollinger, the UAA’s leading scorer, ranks dead last in rebounding.
With a rebounding advantage nearly guaranteed, the Maroons’ main concern stems from Case’s unusual defense.
“They play a 1-3-1 zone, which is unique in the sense that we have not seen it this year,” Roussell said. “They have the length and athleticism to cause teams trouble in this defense, so we need to be smart in how we attack it. We have played well against zones to this point, and hopefully we can continue to do so this weekend.”
Should the Maroons win tonight, they would likely remain undefeated through the first half of UAA play, which concludes with Sunday’s 2 p.m. home match against a weak Carnegie (2–14, 0–5) side.
Considering that ninth-ranked Wash U (13–3, 4–1) and 13th-ranked Rochester (13–3, 4–1) won’t be able to match that feat, the Maroons could see their national ranking jump.
For Halfhill and the rest of the team, that’s all that matters. “I really believe that our team’s attitude has changed drastically since the beginning of the season and that is why we are playing so well together,” she said. “We all realize our roles on the team and we all are genuinely happy for each other’s successes. This is a team that just has a winning mentality and will do whatever it takes to win and doesn’t care who necessarily gets the credit. We have high expectations for this season.”