Image courtesy of Catholic Athletics
By Angela Hickey
The Catholic University Women’s Basketball team had its Landmark Conference Championship last Saturday. Unfortunately, the Catholic women’s team lost 63-42 against the women’s team at Scranton in Pennsylvania, who had an overall record of 24-3.
Scranton was a nationally ranked team for most of the season. Catholic and Scranton faced off 2 times this season with the home team winning both times. Scranton achieved a record of 12-2 in the Landmark Conference. When they played at the DuFour center, Catholic upset then #11 Scranton 65-64.
Senior Sydney Poindexter, who paced the team in the championship game with 18 points and 4 rebounds, was the leading player of the team this year. Averaging 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist this season, she contributed to the team’s 21-6 record, with an 11-3 conference record.
Entering the contest with an average of 70.9 points per game, the team was favored to win its first conference championship since 2015. This game, however, had the girls’ lowest average of the season by a conference opponent, ranking the team at eighth in the Mid-Atlantic region. With this loss, it’s almost certain the girls will not be called into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Despite this disappointing setback, the women had an absolutely outstanding season, recording their fifth campaign of 21 or more victories in the past nine years under coach Matt Donohue. In an interview with the program’s all-time winningest coach, Donohue stated how proud he was of all that the team accomplished this year.
“We fought through a lot of adversity and overcame a number of challenging obstacles,” said Donohue, after being interviewed by the Catholic Athletic Departments writer, Chris McManes.
Donahue received his second Coach of the Year honor, receiving the first in 2014 for leading the Cardinals to their fifth 20-win season in the last nine years. This season he led the team to two tournament wins, the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Scott Wood Tournament.
Alongside Poindexter, freshman guard Amelia Baldo and sophomore forward and guard Amanda Johnson helped the team in the first quarter. Baldo scored six points while Johnson scored four points and achieved a team-high of nine rebounds. The team eventually took its last lead of the game with 7:42 left in the first quarter, leading the score 4-2.
Overall, the women’s team had a very good season. Freshman forward Rachel Bussanich was named Rookie of the Year, for her performance coming off the bench for the Cardinals, she averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds with an average of 17 minutes per game. Bussanich is the second Cardinal overall to win Rookie of the Year, being the first player to receive this award since 2015.
The team had two members named to the All-Landmark Teams. Poindexter was named to the first team while Johnson was named to the second. Johnson averaged 10.3 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game, leading the team with 46 made 3-pointers. This was both players’ first nomination.
Catholic had one of its most successful seasons to date, beginning the season with a 7-0 record. The team picked up wins against 2 Top 15 ranked teams, defeating #14 Marymount (Va.) at home in January, and having won an earlier match up with Scranton which at the time was ranked #11. The team also had a 7 game winning streak in the Landmark Conference, leading it to take the #2 seed in the conference tournament.
At the end of this season, the team is only losing three seniors. Along with Poindexter, the team is losing seniors Megan Stafford and Mollie Reynolds. This plays in the team’s favor, keeping the starting roster relatively similar and preventing any major play changes.
“Accomplishing what we did with such a young team speaks volumes for the character and work ethic of the young women in this program,” Donohue said. “I’m very proud of them.”