The Ursinus College women’s basketball team has begun their 2017-2018 season, splitting their first four games and losing the most recent in overtime to reach a current record of 2-3, including going 1-1 in the Rinso Marquette Tournament in Anville, Pa. on Nov. 18-19.
The Bears have playoff aspirations this year after having fallen just short last season with a 13-12 overall record after being eliminated in the final regular season game by Gettysburg College.
Junior point guard Kaci McNeave said, “I think getting to playoffs is something we all are really striving for. We’ve been one game out for the past two years and we’re ready to not only make it, but to really be a contender and not be satisfied with just getting there but really striving to win.”
Added senior captain and forward, Rachel Guy, “My expectation for this season is to make playoffs and prove to people that we are the best team in the Centennial Conference because we are capable of being one of the best teams in the conference.”
Ursinus stands on the precipice of the playoffs this year, ranking sixth in the Centennial Conference preseason poll.
Guy feels they deserve a higher ranking than six.
“Being ranked sixth in the Centennial Conference preseason poll isn’t bad but I do think that we should have been ranked higher up. I believe this year we are really going to show people how great of a team we are,” said Guy.
Junior Brielle Clarke added, “I feel that as a whole, we are better than a sixth ranked team. However, I don’t mind our rank, it places us as an underdog and everyone loves an underdog.”
“I don’t really think about it too much. I think we like to surprise people and we know what we are capable of and we can use that to our advantage this season. We’re ready to show people what we can do,” said McNeave.
The Bears got off to a good start in their postseason pursuit. They emerged victorious, 55-50, in the Nov. 15 season opener at Alvernia University in a game that vacillated down the stretch.
The win was led by sophomore forward and reigning Centennial Conference Rookie-of-the-Year, Lydia Konzstanzer, with a double-double: 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Konstanzer helped Ursinus get a 18-8 lead after the first period and expanded the gap to 13 by halftime, but went out early in the third period due to foul trouble, allowing Alvernia to tie the game by the end of the third period.
Key played down the stretch by senior captain Rachel Guy (eight fourth-quarter points) and sophomore center Toni Suler helped UC overcome a six-point deficit with just 6:18 remaining.
In the waning seconds, with Ursinus up by three, junior point guard Kaci McNeave knocked down the game-icing free throw despite a raucous Alvernia crowd.
Ursinus had less luck in the opening game of the Rinso-Marquette Tournament on Nov. 18. They were downed 69-47 by Lebanon Valley, despite Konstanzer leading the game in points with 16 and Guy leading in rebounds and assists with eight and three, respectively.
Sophomore center Toni Suler also swatted her 100th career block in the game, one of her six on the evening, to become one of four Ursinus women to ever accomplish such a feat.
The team had more luck in the consolation game against Eastern University, defeating the Eagles in decisive fashion, 54-44 on Nov. 19.
Konstanzer led the way with a double-double, dropping 25 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, also leading the team on a 7-0 run to end the first half.
The Bears were upset by Haverford College in their home opener on Nov. 21, by a score of 51-37. A bad first quarter ultimately did the Bears in. They were outscored 14-3 in the opening frame.
Ursinus was also out-done in the rebounding department. The Fords were able to grab 42 rebounds (13 offensive) while the Bears nabbed just 31 boards.
The women partook in another back-and-forth affair against Albright University, but ultimately fell in overtime 65-59. Konstanzer lead the scoring again, this time with 26 points on 22 shot attempts. Konstanzer and Suler led the squad with eight rebounds each.
The heroic effort by Konstanzer floundered when she was fouled with 6.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter with the Bears down 54-53. She knocked down the first of two free throws but wasn’t able to hit the would-be game-winner, which sent the game to overtime and, finally, the loss.
Looking to swiftly turn their fortunes, the Bears will return home to face Centennial Conference opponent, Bryn Mawr College, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30.