By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff
After a layoff of 3-plus weeks, the women's basketball team kicks off the 2013 portion of its schedule at the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic Tuesday and Wednesday at Blake Arena on the Springfield College campus.
At left: Kristina Forsman
Head coach Denise Bierly and her squad will start off the tournament Tuesday at 3 p.m. against Bridgewater State University in the second of two first-round games. Playing their fifth straight road game, the Warriors enter the game with a record of 2-7, 1-4 away from Geissler Gym. Despite playing only one home game, Bridgewater is 6-2, having compiled a 6-1 record away from the Tinsley Center. The Bears are coming off consecutive 19-8 seasons and NCAA tournament appearances.
It has been a lot of sophomores Shannon McCourt and Kristina Forsman through the early part of the season as Eastern came into this year with another team that is extremely young. McCourt leads Eastern in scoring (13.3) and rebounding (8.4) while Forsman averages exactly 12 points with a team-leading ten three-point field goals.
Another sophomore, Taylor McBride, averages three points a game, but has opportunities to score often, but has yet to take advantage of those chances. McBride has a strong point guard mentality, which often leads to her dishing the ball off instead of taking an open lane. I look for McBride to open up her game a bit more in this matchup. Freshmen Jill Ritrosky (5.2 ppg.) and Brianna Leonard (8.0) have had big roles so far this season and continue to learn.
With only one six-footer (freshman Brittany Deely), Bridgewater State, on paper. seems to matchup perfectly with Eastern. The Bears have four players who score in double digits, led by senior Michaela Cosby. The 5-foot-5 inch guard averages right under 14 points a game and her quickness and ability to get to the basket makes her dangerous. McCourt will have a tough task in guarding 5-foot- 9 inch junior Megan Boutilette who averages 13 points and 8 rebounds a game.
Key for BSU - Shut down McCourt. If the Bears can take McCourt out of the game, then Eastern will need to find someone other than Forsman to score the ball. They have had trouble all season finding that other player, so BSU will most likely take advantage.
Keys for Eastern - If the Warriors hope to stretch their winning streak against Bridgewater to ten, they must spread the wealth and get players open. Many times, Eastern will let the shot clock run to long and cannot get an open shot or a good look. They must set off-ball screens to get their guards open. Also, Eastern must spread the wealth and not rely on two players offensively. They need other players to step up and take advantage of any mismatches they may have.
Depending upon Tuesday's outcome, Eastern will play either Swarthmore College or Springfield College Wednesday in either the consolation game (1 p.m.) or championship game (3 p.m.).
Swarthmore (7-0) is having a very good season so far and would probably be the tougher matchup for the Warriors. Uncharacteristically, Springfield (1-7) on the other hand is struggling this season, which is shocking to many since they have always had a fairly good program (five NCAA appearances in a six-year stretch ending in 2006). Whomever Eastern ends up playing, its key will be the same as the one in the first game vs. BSU. They must get better looks and find other players to score.