The Schreiner women never lost their confidence this season.
It might have been shaken when they lost their first five games. But even then, they never abandoned faith in coach Samantha Davidson’s system.
Davidson also never panicked. During that losing streak, she knew she had a young team (four out of Schreiner’s top five scorers are underclassmen) and that they were playing a difficult non-conference schedule. It was inevitable there were going to be some growing pains. That’s why neither she nor her players fretted about their record. Instead, they focused on improving each day.
“They were smart enough to see the bigger picture,” Davidson said. “That conference play is what matters the most.”
As a result, the Lady Mountaineers (10-9, 8-4 SCAC) are peaking at the right time. Since the first five games, they have won 10 out of their last 14 contest to move to No. 4 in the SCAC conference standings. Last Sunday, they earned their biggest victory of the season, triumphing over St. Thomas (15-5, 10-3), 88-82, on the road. They will try to earn another signature victory tonight when they host Austin College (17-2, 10-2) tonight at 7:30 p.m. The Schreiner men’s team (6-13, 4-8) will play at 5:30 p.m.
There are myriad reason why the Lady Mountaineers are currently thriving. During their five-game win streak, they have shot 42.2 percent from the floor. They have also averaged 14.6 rebounds during that span. And their freshman point guard, Zahra Cross, has averaged 17.4 points per game in her last seven games, receiving the SCAC player of the week honors on Monday.
But perhaps most importantly, Davidson’s young team has been coachable.
“We have players who are playing well and making shots, but I think the biggest thing is that they have really bought into our culture and doing things the right way,” Davidson said. “We get to a certain point in the conference where there is a lot of game planning and they are taking the game plan and running with it. They are really buying into keeping that game plan for 40 minutes.”
The Lady Mountaineers will have to play at a high level for 40 minutes on Friday. They played well for 30 minutes during the first meeting against Austin College on Jan. 10, but were outscored 26-8 in the fourth quarter in a 71-48 loss.
But the Lady Mountaineers have won six out of seven games after that fourth quarter collapse. Davidson is confident they will deliver another strong performance on Friday.
“I feel pretty good going into it,” Davidson said. “We are playing well right now. We are hitting shots, and the biggest thing is we have a little bit of revenge on our minds.”