Young Women’s Basketball Team Opens Season 3-0

Alyssa Taburrino

The echoes of seasons past are quickly fading in Cotterell Court, and are now being replaced by the excited cheers of fervent fans. That’s right, fans; Colgate women’s basketball is back in action, and they are 3-0, as the Raiders defeated Presbyterian 63-47, Rider University 72-65 and Alabama State 66-57.

Last season, the Lady Raiders battled youth and inexperience, achieving an overall record of 5-25. Despite their record, however, there were a few highlights for the team. One bright spot was the development and contributions of then-first-year center Tricia Oakes. Oakes showed her versatility to the team en route to accumulating nine points per game, nineteen blocked shots and a .419 field goal percentage. Owing to her stellar performance for the team, Oakes was honored as a member of the Patriot League All Rookie team.

This season, the women may be singing a different tune. They’re now returning a contingent of upperclassmen talent, including last season’s leading scorer, junior guard Taylor Wejnert. Wejnert averaged 11.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game after transferring to Colgate from George Mason University. Also returning is junior guard and impact player, Sami Kozlowski. Kozlowski had an average of 9.7 points per game while also dishing out 2.9 assists a game on average. The team is also counting on her talent from the three-point line. Senior captain Katie Garman also brings a deft three-point shot, tenacious defense and solid hustle.

Adding to the talent of the experienced upperclassmen are three newcomers: guard Jhazmine Lynch, Rebekah Ward and Lulu Brase. There are high expectations for the first-years, due to their exceptional play on the high school and club level. Brase will provide strength and the unusual ability to run the floor. Ward contributes mental toughness and a competitive edge to the team that can be observed in the fact that she was able to overcome a significant knee injury before the beginning of the season. Lynch knows what it takes to win, as her high school team only lost sixteen total games during her years there. Her speed will also bring deception and explosiveness to the Colgate backcourt, allowing for more fluidity in ball movement.

With this crucial combination of old and new, team expectations are significantly higher. Strong leadership and a dedicated work ethic in practice have already demonstrated themselves on the court, as the women have won their first two games over the past week. In the game against Presbyterian last Saturday, Colgate trailed through most of the first half, picking up the lead just before halftime. The Raiders took over the second half, however, and sealed the victory, 63-47. Kozlowski scored the team-high 14 points, followed by Lynch with 12. Wejnert picked up the team-high nine rebounds. Against Rider on Monday, the score was tight throughout the duration of the match, but the Raiders pulled through to win 72-65. Lynch was the high-scorer this time with 25. Junior Kendra Brim contributed 14 points, and Kozlowski added 10. The team-high rebounds went to Oakes with seven and Wejnert with six. For more information on the Alabama State game, please consult page D-9. for a “Last Night at ‘Gate” article.”

The team also hopes to make a deeper run into the Patriot League Tournament this season, after losing a tough one to eventual Patriot League Champion Lehigh University in the first round last year.

In addition to strong presence on the court, the women will also receive some fresh perspective on the game as the team welcomes new assistant coaches Karen Blair and Kim Foley. Blair comes to Colgate from Southern Methodist University, where the Mustangs reached the NCAA tournament twice and captured a Conference USA Tournament Championship during the ’07-’08 season. After playing four years in the National Women’s Basketball League, Foley returned to the college scene to coach Drexel University and Central Connecticut State University. Because of her vast past experience with basketball on the college and professional level, Foley will be able to effectively relay the finer points of the game to the team and teach them what it take to elevate their play to a higher level.

Anchoring the team for the third season is head coach Pamela Bass. Bass has experience as an assistant coach at a plethora of schools including Brown University, Providence College, and Yale University. She was head coach at Longwood University for one season, during which her Lancers had an overall record of 8-21. Bass looks to continue her growth as a head coach this year by increasing the on-court success of the Raiders.

The schedule ahead of the women seems to be quite formidable. The team will play reigning Patriot League Champions Lehigh University twice. The women also play perennial power American University twice and will travel for a rivalry showdown against Cornell University. Do not discount these Raiders, however. With a combination of seasoned veterans, skillful newcomers and a lauded coaching staff, this season could be a complete turn around from the last. As the old adage says, “What goes around, comes around,” and this season, success may just be headed the women’s basketball team’s way.