by Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff
After a long layoff, Eastern ushered in the new year at the Springfield College Naismith Classic.
The Warriors took on the Bears of Bridgewater State in the opening game of the tournament on New Year's Day. All that time off showed as Eastern had trouble not only controlling the tempo of the game, but controlling possession. The Warriors had 17 turnovers in the first half which led to 24 points for the Bears.
At right: Shannon McCourt
Trailing by 12 at half the Warriors had their backs against the wall and came out on fire in the second half. They went on a huge 21-6 run which gave them a three -point lead with less than ten minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately that three-point lead wasn't enough. The Bears held Eastern to one basket in the final five minutes of the game.
In the final seconds trailing by two, Eastern had to throw up a desperation three that fell short as the clock expired. The Warriors were defeated by the bears 55-53, but there were some things they could build on going into the consolation game.
All-tournament selection Shannon McCourt was back on track as she had a great game scoring 20 points and grabbing a season high 16 rebounds. Jill Ritrosky also stepped up as the freshman dropped 11 points and snagged down six rebounds. The slow start ended up hurting the Warriors most in this one, but they still had one more to play at Springfield College as they took on Swarthmore College.
It was an upsetting loss to the Bears the day prior, but the game vs. Swarthmore wasn't much better. Eastern struggled throughout as the Garnet won the game 63-46. It was another game that showed the lack of experience for the Warriors.
Turnovers have been the biggest issue for them this season and it continues. As much as people are all over the struggles of this year's team, they need to take a look at the schedule. All of Eastern's losses so far this season come from teams that have winning percentages of at least .600. Nine of those teams have combined for an overall record of 73-15. Three of those teams are undefeated and three are currently nationally ranked.
Head Coach Denise Bierly has her team playing stronger and overall better teams this season, but what people don't understand is how important this will be down the road. These players are getting experience that players around the country won't get their freshman and sophomore seasons.
There are a few things I think the Warriors need to do to get back on track as they head into the conference part of their schedule. McCourt must continue her great play and stay consistent. They also need to find another scorer either that starts or that comes off the bench. Eastern should not be relying on a player such as Kristina Forsman to score 12 to 15 points a game. Forsman is a true point guard who can knock down a three and drive to the hoop, but should be using her point guard skills more often. As the season goes on, more of these freshmen will learn their roles and come together. Although this team may not have much success this season, the future is extremely bright for Coach Bierly and her Warriors.