Photos by Sebastian Evans.
Both the women’s and men’s basketball teams had evenly matched opponents with Monmouth on Feb. 1, true nail-biters until the very end. Ultimately, the men’s team won by just five points, while the women’s team lost by just 10 points.
I sat down with junior guard Brad Sendell and junior forward Kenya Earl, both of whom scored the most points for their team during the game on Saturday (29 and 30 points respectively). In order to gain more insight on the process of the game and how they prepared for it, I asked them a few questions.
Quick: Why do you think you won? What was the determining factor of the games as well as the team’s strengths and weaknesses?
Sendell: It was a great win. We had a tough month of January, so to beat a team of that caliber definitely gave us some confidence. Hopefully we can carry that momentum through the rest of our season. Our mentality going into the game was just to play hard and loose. We felt like we were putting too much pressure our ourselves to win over the past month. I think that mentality really helped us going into Saturday’s game. It also always helps to make 17 threes as a team while shooting over 50%. We made big plays on both ends down the stretch. We have had stretches throughout the year where we have really struggled on the defensive end of the floor. While we were by no means great defensively, we made big plays in crucial parts of the game. We have to continue to improve defensively. Personally, I just do what I can to help the team win. Sometimes that requires me to score and other times that requires me to find an open teammate. Towards the end of the game, Monmouth did a good job taking away open looks for me, but I trusted my teammates and they made huge shots to close out the game.
Quick: What is something you want to improve about yourself? (ex. You already managed to score 30 points, do you have any other new goals for yourself? Where do you want to improve?) She responded by saying:
Earl: Something I want to improve on is being more of a vocal leader on the floor. I feel like my team can hear more of my thoughts and voice in practice than game situations. I’m also looking out for the all the time career record for points.
Quick: What is something you think the team did really well during the game against Monmouth? What is something you think you guys need to work on?
Earl: I think we did a better job getting the ball inside more in the second half and driving more to get fouled. First half we were struggling to make shots from the perimeter and weren’t getting to the free throw line like we should of, so I think we made a good adjustment in the second half.
Quick: How did you motivate yourself in the game against Monmouth (or in general)?
Earl: Monmouth is one of the top teams in our conference, and I think we did a great job of staying with them the whole game. Going into the game, I think we had more confidence from the last time we played them because we hung with them until the fourth quarter and fatigue just hit us. My mindset was basically if we play like we did Friday against Cornell and like the last time we played them, we can have a chance to win.
Quick: What do you think is basketball’s key to success?
Earl: I think the key to success for our team is really working together on offense to find the best shot. Also digging deep in the thrid and fourth quarters mentally and physically to try to pull out the win.
Men’s basketball downed Monmouth 82-77 to improve to 9-10 (5-7 MWC), while the women fell to 5-14 (2-10 MWC) with a 69-59 loss. Looking forward, both teams will attempt to win in their home matchups against conference rivals Ripon on Saturday, Feb. 8.