Written and Media by Tymber Gabbert
The Greenville College Lady Panthers Basketball team did not disappoint this weekend. Not only did they get their first win in SLIAC tournament history, but they are also the current SLIAC Women’s Basketball champions!
“So many girls contributed to our success. Nine out of ten of our top players scored so you can tell it was a team effort. Missy, Coley, and Taylor had their usual games. Kayla also came up big on the boards and Maria played really well. Everyone did their job, nobody played poorly,” stated head coach Roy Mulholland.
Greenville started the weekend off strong with an outstanding 70 – 53 win over Spalding University on Friday night. The Panthers had a 1-1 record against Spalding in the regular season with the loss coming in overtime. “Our approach definitely changed going into this game. We went after them full court because we knew they weren’t deep and we wanted to wear them out. Depth is our strength so the high tempo really helped,” stated Coach Mulholland. The Lady Panthers outrebounded Spalding 51-27 and had three players on the scoreboard with double-digits including Missy Deal with 16, Taylor Paulin 13 while Claire Schmitt had 10.
Greenville’s Cinderella story didn’t stop there. The Lady Panthers had a spectacular start in the final against Westminster College as they went on a 9-0 run in the first few minutes of the game, causing the opposing coach to call a timeout. The Panthers maintained a 21-13 lead going into the second period but Westminster got hot from the three point line to enter halftime with a 32-31 lead.
Greenville came back on top by the end of the third period with a 49-47 lead but soon fell behind late in the game. After a Kelly Lenz layup to reclaim the lead, Coley Baker made a huge block in the last few seconds. Jamie Schollenburch chased down the rebound and was fouled. Her two free throws gave GC a 66-63 lead, and a Westminster three point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark to give Greenville the three point victory. According to Coach Mulholland, two major changes were put into place that contributed to Greenville’s success. “First, we wanted to press Westminster because, like Spalding, depth is something they lack. Secondly, we changed the way we played defense against their post player. During the regular season, we would let her get the ball, but this time around we wanted to keep the ball out of her hands. She had 32 points in one of our regular season games but this time around she only had 6 points and also fouled out. Coley is the reason we were able to shut her down.” Baker had an exceptional game by contributing 13 points, three assists, four rebounds and seven blocks to the stat sheet.
Two Lady Panthers were recognized individually for their efforts in the SLIAC tournament. Deal was picked as the SLIAC tournament MVP and Paulin was selected for the all-tournament team. On the success of these girls, Coach Mulholland states, “It’s super. I really like to see players get deserving recognition. I am very glad Taylor was on the all-tournament team because she didn’t make all-conference when I really think she deserved it. Missy is very deserving of tournament MVP. It’s hard in terms of individual awards because everyone does their job.”
Coach Mulholland knows that in order for the team to succeed in the NCAA tournament, he needs to allow time to celebrate but then quickly bring the girls back to reality. “We need to take a day off and create some separation. We will continue to enjoy it today then begin to prepare tomorrow.”
The Greenville Women’s Basketball team will head to St. Louis, Missouri, on Friday, March 4, to face Washington University in their first ever game in an NCAA tournament.