Yeowomen Dismantled by Purple Raiders in Season Debut


Photo courtesy of OC Athletics

Sophomore guard Ally Driscoll tries to move the ball past a defender in last season’s Nov. 28 loss to the University of Mount Union Purple Raiders. Wednesday, she scored a team-high 14 points in their 44–65 season opening loss to the Purple Raiders.

In their first game since dropping a nail-biter to the DePauw University Tigers in last year’s North Coast Athletic Conference semi-finals 58–54, the Yeowomen lost their season opener to the University of Mount Union Purple Raiders 65–44 on Wednesday. The Yeowomen’s offense could not pull through, shooting 25 percent from the field and 10 percent from three in a disappointing start to a season that they began with high expectations.

Despite coming off a season in which the Yeowomen ranked first in all of Division III with total blocks (203) and blocks per game (7.5), Head Coach Kerry Jenkins — who has helmed the team for 10 years and has a program record of 82 wins — has tried to maintain an underdog mentality within the locker room going into the season.

“I remind the players daily not what they almost did, but what they did,” Jenkins said. “They almost beat DePauw, but they didn’t beat DePauw. We’re approaching it with that mindset that we have to be hungry; we still have to be aggressive. It’s still their throne until we take it from them.”

The Yeowomen came out of the gate sluggish, falling down 18–10 through the end of the first quarter. Two quick threes from first-year guard Leah Ross and sophomore guard Ally Driscoll put the Yeowomen within two points, but the Purple Raiders were quick to respond with a 16–3 run, helping them ahead to 34–19 at the half. From there the Purple Raiders were able to cruise to victory as the Yeowomen relied on their bench to try ease the deficit.

Key performances came from junior center Olivia Canning, who gained her tenth career double-double by posting 10 points and 10 rebounds, all while shooting 50 percent from the field to follow up her All-NCAC Second Team performance last season. Driscoll, who came off the bench, led the team with 14 points as she also shot 50 percent from the field. However, according to junior guard Alex Stipano, who scored four points and went 1–8 from the field despite leading the team in points last season with 10.1 points per game, the team is much more focused on scoring points than who is doing the scoring.

“We don’t really think about who’s scoring the most,” Stipano said. “[Jenkins] really emphasizes doing your role well. It just so happens that my role, Abby’s role, Liv’s role are to be the main scorers. That doesn’t mean that all we do is focus on scoring. We’re realizing that, of course, scoring is important to win, but [rebounding, playing defense, being aggressive] is also important.”

The Yeowomen, who have their two returning All-NCAC Second Team players Canning and senior Abby Andrews, as well as their leading scorer last year, Stipano, bring one of the most experienced groups in the program’s recent memory. To Leah Ross, who is one of three first-years on the team this season, this experience has been evident since day one, and she hopes it will lead to more future wins.

“The first thing I noticed was the attitude,” Ross said. “The attitude towards a championship is really intense. There seems to be a lot of memory. As first-years you come in and don’t have the history of the program, but the returning players remember the teams we’re playing now. They remember the tough games and hard losses. There’s that aspect of grit that’s there.

Looking forward, the Yeowomen hope to find their rhythm before their matchup against the Muskingum University Fighting Muskies in New Concord, Ohio tomorrow, after which they will kick off conference play against the Hiram College Terriers Tuesday in Philips gym.

“It’s one thing to believe you believe, and it’s another thing to believe,” Jenkins said. “I think that up until that DePauw game we believed that we believed, and it was in the middle of that game there was a moment that the team legitimately thought, ‘Wait, we’re gonna win this game.’ That opened the door to expectation for them. All of a sudden they thought, ‘Wait a minute, not only are we playing with the top team in the conference, but we’re playing one of the best teams in the conference,’ and it’s really impacted [the approach this] season.”