Women’s hoops team has a breakout season

Aliah Curry, in white, broke the all-time scoring record though she is only a junior. The Lady Cadets had a great run, making to the GNAC finals and ended the year 15-13 with wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals before losing to St. Josephs for the title.

Aliah Curry, in white, broke the all-time scoring record though she is only a junior. The Lady Cadets had a great run, making to the GNAC finals and ended the year 15-13 with wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals before losing to St. Josephs for the title.

The Norwich University Women’s basketball team had a remarkable season, showing great improvement from the 2012-2013 campaign.

This year’s team captains are senior guard Kristin Brown, from Williamstown, Vt., and junior guard Aliah Curry from Windsor, Mass. The two have led the Cadets to the GNAC (Great Northeast Athletic Conference) Finals.

Kelsey Lotti, a junior guard from South Yarmouth, Mass., said goals were set high, and from the start of the season the team’s aim was to win the GNAC. “I had a lot of high expectations for this year’s team. We came into the season with a very strong core of upperclassman from last year and an extremely solid freshman class to accompany us. With this I had my eyes set on one goal, winning the GNAC. We have everything it takes to be the Number One team in our conference,” said Lotti.

This fact comes as no surprise to some, as the Cadets have competed in every conference game, with most losses coming down to the final minutes, often separated by few points. Lotti credits the team’s chemistry as what kept them grinding through tough losses earlier in the season. Said Lotti, “Our overall team chemistry on and off the court has been strong this year, which has helped keep team unity. Also, we have had some key individuals step up and fill big shoes on our team, which has brought us into a lot of success.”

Late in the final stretch of the season, Norwich women’s hoops have really shown what they are made of, winning several key games, including a blowout win at Johnson State, solid wins over Anna Maria College and Plymouth State, and a heartbreaking one-point loss to first place Rivier. The Cadets also capped off their Senior Day, the last home game of the season, with a 66-63 win over Albertus Magnus.

However on Feb. 25, the Cadets faced their biggest test, squaring off against Emmanuel College, the top seeded team, in the opening round of the GNAC Postseason Tournament. Emmanuel, which had won an impressive 64 straight GNAC games, had not lost a game in their conference since 2010, and has won seven straight conference titles.

It was a different story that night, as the Cadets took little time to bound out to a 9-4 lead early in the first half. The Cadets battled the entire game, with Aliah Curry contributing 33 points, only missing one of her 19 free throw attempts. Junior guard Lotti also added 20 points with 9 rebounds. Senior forward Erin Clark from Newbury, Vt., also added 9 rebounds in a strong effort, taking the Emmanuel Saints to overtime before pulling away 84-78.

After the huge win, Clark said, “We’ve always talked about the GNAC finals; every team really does. We have the most talent this year [compared to previous years]. We didn’t even make the playoffs last year, and now we are on our way to the finals.”

In a game that had eighteen ties, the Cadets’ dominant performance from the line was the key, hitting 78 percent of their free-throws, considering the Saints out-performed the Cadets in rebounds, also forcing 28 turnovers. Captain Aliah Curry said, “Beating Emmanuel felt as if we won a championship game. To know that we ended a winning streak was an incredible feeling. I think our team is focused on the one goal to win a GNAC championship. Our team is peaking at the right time and that is huge when it comes to the postseason.”

Curry also broke the all-time points record earlier this season, an impressive fact, considering that this is only her junior year. Addressing her accomplishment, Curry said, “I broke the all-time scoring record for Norwich women’s basketball and that was an incredible feeling, but it hasn’t really sunk in exactly what I’ve done yet.”

Curry clearly had the playoffs and not herself on her mind when she added, “I feel like everything has fell into place for us. We finally started our game of basketball. It’s all about the peak of our performance. Everyone has to believe we can do it, why not us?”

When asked about how special it would be for a senior class to go out with a GNAC title, senior forward Erin Clark said: “We’re really close [seniors]. It is going to be really weird not being with them next year.”

The Cadets punched their ticket to the GNAC finals with a dominating win at Johnson & Wales on Feb. 27, handily beating the JWU Wildcats 72-59. Curry had yet another notable performance, netting 28 points with an 11-for-11 performance from the line, as fellow junior Kelsey Lotti sank 15 points and three 3-pointers.

With the win in Rhode Island, the Cadets then headed off to meet Saint Joe’s (Maine) for the GNAC Championship. The Saint Joe’s Monks came into the game as the second seed, posting an impressive near perfect 10-1 GNAC record, the only loss coming from regular season champion Emmanuel.

The Cadets squared off against the Monks earlier in the season, with the Cadets losing despite an admirable second-half comeback in January. However that was earlier in the season, before the Cadets went on the conference run that sent them to the playoffs, winning seven out of their last ten games.

On March 1, the Cadets squared off against Saint Joseph’s for the GNAC title. The Norwich University athletic department sent a spirit bus, with nearly 800 fans attending the game. But in the end, the Monks proved to be too much for Norwich as the Cadets’ Cinderella run came to an end via a disappointing 63-47 loss. The Cadets contended the entire game, holding the Monks to only 31 points at the end of the first half, but Norwich simply could not generate enough offense. Curry yet again had another terrific performance, leading the team with 14 points.

Norwich closed out the season as the runner-up for the GNAC title, with a record of 15-13. Last year’s record was 10-15 and the Cadets missed the playoffs, showing much improvement from 2012-2013. With progression such as this, there is plenty of optimism for the 2014-2015 campaign.

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