Marcus Whipple ‘21

Sports Writer

All Smiles: Women’s Basketball players celebrate after a home victory over their opponent. The team defended home court well with a 10-4 record in Belk Arena. Photo Courtesy of Gavin McFarland: Davidson Sports and Information

Pivot: the central point, pin, or shaft on which the mechanism oscillates. In basketball, the pivot foot allows a player to turn their body and change directions with traveling.This season, the Davidson Women’s basketball team pivoted in a positive direction.

From the start, this season was unlike any other in recent memory for Davidson Women’s Basketball. As senior guard Kianna Speight ‘19 put it, “This year, we expected to win, which is something different than in past years.” Winning was the expectation and winning is exactly what the 2018-2019 season brought. The team reached new heights within the Atlantic 10 Conference, finishing with a 17-14 record and 10-6 in conference, tying for fourth place overall. The Wildcat women were led by the powerful trio of senior Justine Lyon ‘20 who earned A-10 Sixth Woman of the Year and made 3rd team all-conference, sophomore Sarah Donovan ‘21 who earned A-10 Most Improved Player and 2nd team all-conference, and finally sophomore Katie Turner ‘21 who joined Lyon on the 3rd team all-conference. 

The season began with back to back dominating victories, but the Wildcats were quickly tested as they dropped their next three with margins of five, three, and then three points again. Such close losses could easily have derailed the season and sucked the life out of the team, but the resiliency and toughness showed as the players never allowed that to happen. Instead, as Donovan explained, “We used these games as a learning opportunity. These games are a good chance to identify the things we need to improve as a team.” Learn and improve they did as the proceeded to win their next two and a few games later would culminate with a statement win on the road over big school program Clemson. 

“We do not really dwell on the past, but we reflect and move forward,” commented Speight. This mentality of learning but not dwelling paid dividends in two later games both against number nine team in the country NC State and conference opponent Fordham. The Wildcats hung tough, with their highly ranked opponent going into halftime with a 27-27 tie ,not allowing the moment to overwhelm them. “Our coaches were emphasizing that this was just another basketball game and it didn’t matter who they were, we just had to come ready to play without fear,” added Speight. Although the final score reflected a lopsided defeat, the first half proved that the Wildcat’s belonged and that they would not let lights get too bright for them.

Atlantic 10 Conference play began for the women in January where they started out with an impressive 7-1 record. The biggest of those seven victories emerged from the Rose Hill Gymnasium of Fordham. Down fifteen early on, the team battled back in the tough road environment to overcome their opponent and emerge with a 60-56 win. Donovan noted the contest as being a defining moment of the team’s season and one where they made their presence known within the A-10. “I think that the fight we had in this game really showcased what kind of team we are.” 

The rest of the regular season, however, did not end as the team would have hoped, as they dropped five of their last eight conference games. The team reached the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament, which marked the furthest a Davidson Women’s team has gone within the tournament. Although disheartened by the early exit, the team still holds out hope that they can sneak into the NCAA Tournament via large bid. 

Whether the team qualifies for tournament play or not, the 2018-2019 season set a new benchmark for Davidson Women’s Basketball with a highly successful season. Despite the great success, however, the sentiment remains clear – this is only the beginning. When you speak with members of the team, they tell you that they accomplished a lot but that they were unsatisfied with their finish. Next year they will seek to achieve even more. As Donovan put it, “Although our win total was an accomplishment, we are still not satisfied with where we are. We are capable of so much and I am excited where this program is headed.” Under the leadership of Donovan and fellow sophomore Turner, the future of Women’s Basketball at Davidson College is bright, and success is in store. 

For an article covering the Men’s Basketball season and tournament, please visit the Davidsonian website