On its way to a 7–1 record this season, the women’s basketball team has discovered that its best offense stems from an effective defense.
The South Hill squad has forced its opponents to cough up the ball nearly 20 times per game and is scoring 23 points per game off those turnovers. A good portion — 32 percent — of the overall point total for the Blue and Gold this season has come directly off turnovers.
The Bombers’ propensity for using defensive stops to create fast-break scoring chances was manifested in their games against two of the top teams in Division III — University of Rochester and Baruch College.
Senior guard Jessica Farley said the team’s ability to force turnovers enabled the Blue and Gold to climb back into their matchup against Baruch on Saturday.
“We were down 13 at the half, and we couldn’t get it all back in three or four minutes,” she said. “So we slowly started getting stops and steals and actually converted them on offense.”
Farley, who currently leads the Empire 8 Conference with 29 steals, said the team has a straightforward mindset on defense that emphasizes one basic rule of thumb.
“When the player has the ball, we don’t try to steal it from them, and we just keep them from going in the middle,” Farley said. “But when the ball is in the air, that’s when we go after it.”
While the Bombers’ guards are making opponents think twice before they pass on the perimeter, the team’s forwards have been consistently challenging entry passes into the low post.
Sophomore forward Jennifer Escobido said the team’s single coverage in the paint area puts a premium on clogging the passing lanes.
“We definitely work on being aggressive in practices and in games,” Escobido said. “It just helps a lot to be out in the passing lanes so that it’s hard to get the ball into the post, and it flusters the other team’s guards.”
Senior guard Jacqueline Shinall said most of the team’s points off turnovers have been created by how quickly they shift from defense to the fast-break offense.
“We look to transition first, and if it’s not there, we’ll pull the ball out and set up our offense,” Shinall said. “But getting rebounds and steals definitely sets up the transition game for us.”
Raymond said the offense needs to keep the ball out of harm’s way.
“Our philosophy in transition is out, up, and in — that’s what we really look for,” Raymond said. “We don’t like to have the ball in the middle of the floor until it gets to the front court.”
As the Bombers prepare for a trip to Holland, Mich., this weekend, Escobido said opponents should plan for the team to play aggressively on defense.
“It definitely flusters the other team, and they don’t know what to expect,” Escobido said. “And when we’re all over them on defense, they just don’t know what to do.”