Women’s basketball off to historic start to year
Michael Riccio – Sports Editor
A year after making the NCAA Tournament, the women’s basketball team has won five games in a row to start the season. The 5-0 start is the Owls best start since the 2006-2007 season, the last year they won the NCAA Tournament and started the year 20-0.
The Owls lost four of their starters from last season, including First-Team All- NE10 selection and leading scorer Abby Hurlbert and starting point guard Murphy Murad.
However, many players that were on the team last year have stepped up into starting roles this year and excelled. Led by Kiana Steinauer, who is the only returning starter from last year, the Owls have gotten to their best start in over a decade.
Steinauer has already recorded five double- doubles in the season’s first five games. She has also upped her scoring and rebounding average from 10.1 points to and 10.6 rebounds per game to 18.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. She has also missed just four of her 28 free throw attempts while averaging three steals per game.
Replacing Murad at the point guard position is Imani Wheeler. Wheeler, a junior, spent the last two years coming off the bench. Last year, she led the team in steaks with 50 steals in 31 games played. She has also become a reliable passer for the Owls, averaging over 5.5 assists per game.
Jessica Fressle and Amanda Pfohl have also become reliable shooters for the Owls in their first years starting. Fressle, a junior, scored just 68 during her first two years. This year, she has scored 91 points-an average of 18.2 points per game-tied with Steinauer for first on the team. Fressle has also shot 39.1 percent from three while grabbing 7.8 rebounds per game.
Pfohl has always been one of the most reliable shooting options for the Owls, but came off the bench in every game during her first three years. She improved her three-point shooting percentage in every year, shooting 28.2 percent as a freshman, 35.5 percent as a sophomore, 42.1 percent as a junior, to 48.5 percent this year. She also set her career high in scoring in a game with 17 on Nov. 17 against Le Moyne, then tied it in the next game against Queen’s.
With so many players departing the Owls from last year, there was a concern about who would replace last year’s production, who would step up in a leadership role, and how so many players would respond to the increase in playing time. So far, the Owls have answered all questions has they try to make the NCAA Tournament again.