Clark Men’s Basketball won 81-74 in a thrilling overtime game against Coast Guard on Wednesday Feb. 3.
After guard John Pisacreta (‘18) made a game tying layup with three seconds remaining in regulation, guard Luke LaLima (‘17) made some pivotal defensive stops in overtime. He stole the ball twice, and took one charge. LaLima also made a crucial play on offense during this period to pad the Cougars’ one point lead. When inbounding the ball under his own basket, he threw it off the back of a Coast Guard defender, caught it, attempted a layup, and drew contact. He would go on to make both free throws.
“It’s not like I go to that as my first option,” said LaLima, “but no one was open, so I just made a basketball play.” LaLima is from Colts Neck, N. J., and grew up idolizing New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd. His play was reminiscent of the move Lil’ Bow Wow executed on Kidd in the iconic basketball movie Like Mike. “As I was going to the line, I heard someone on the other team say, ‘He pulled some Like Mike [expletive],’” said LaLima.
This win tasted especially sweet after a disappointing 66-60 loss against MIT on Saturday, Jan. 30. Clark was up 29-9 against MIT at one point in the first half. “We came out with very strong defense, which really helps our offense get going, and when we get shots to fall we become a very dangerous team,” co-captain forward Corey Gomes (‘16) wrote in an email to The Scarlet.
MIT was slowly able to claw back due in part to a strong performance by their young star Bradley Jomard, who scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half. “When we start missing some shots and start needing a bucket that distracts us from the defensive mindset, it allows teams to battle back. It’s something we’re working on and looking to improve as the season goes on,” wrote Gomes.
The Cougars are currently 3-6 in conference play, but have five games left to make up some ground. They are confident in their ability to do so. “Once we’re able to get everything figured out on our end, I don’t think there’s a team in the NEWMAC that can beat us,” wrote Gomes. They will play their next home game on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in a rematch against Springfield College.
Clark Women’s Basketball ended last week on a high note with a win over Wellesley on Saturday, Jan. 30, something that boosted their morale a bit after having lost a close game to Wheaton a few days prior.
Offensive consistency is something the team has struggled with. This was apparent in the Wheaton game, in which they had a lead in the beginning of the second half, but fell short. “Our biggest issue is that we haven’t been able to put a full game together. We usually have one bad quarter,” said Sami Dokus (‘16).
Dokus said that head coach Pat Glispin is usually a defensive minded coach, and there has been greater emphasis on offense this year than in years past.
While solid execution on offense helped the Cougars triumph over Wellesley, Dokus said that a major key to winning against Wellesley was having some of the offense “buckling down on defense…we were getting stops, and then executing the fast break properly,” said Dokus.
Another factor that helped them win was a breakout week by center Ogechi Ezemma (‘19) who has averaged 14 points and 8.7 rebounds a game in the team’s last three games. This dominance won her Worcester Area College Basketball Association Women’s Rookie of the Week. “I always say [Ezemma] is an inspiration to me, because she really knows how to rebound,” said Dokus. Ezemma put up a double double on Wednesday, Feb. 3 in a close loss to Springfield College.
The Cougars are currently 2-11 in conference play, and will play their next home game on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. against Mount Holyoke.
Women’s Swimming & Diving
Clark Women’s Swimming & Diving saw their work pay off this season in a big way against Brandeis last Saturday, Jan. 30. They won the meet 147-144 thanks to a first place finish in the last event, the 200-yard breaststroke relay by Charlotte Gray (‘18), Amelia Muratori (‘19), Melissa Orzechowski (‘17), and Kelsey Clary (‘16). They finished with a time of 1:44.65, roughly one second faster than the leading Brandeis team.
“When it comes down to the end of the meet like that, everybody gets very excited,” wrote Niki Lew (‘17). Though Lew was not in the pool for the final event, her third place finish in the 200-yard individual medley helped keep the meet close.
While wins are nice, Lew wrote that the team is much more focused on day-to-day improvements than the win/loss column. “We may not win every meet, but in swimming a loss doesn’t mean a bad day. For us as individuals, we look at our times and push to do things we have never done before, as Coach would say, and at that point the score doesn’t affect us,” she wrote.
Lew wrote that she is particularly pleased with the team’s latest progression, even as soreness and fatigue begin to set in midway through the season. “As far as improvements go, the end of the season is the hardest from a mental standpoint as our bodies are broken down from the training trip and that can often show through negativity resulting in slower times which is hard to deal with.”
She added that morale has played a large role in constructing the fortitude of the team. “I think this year everybody has been much more positive than in the past and it is really showing in the pool as people are continuing to drop time as we get close to NEWMACs,” she wrote.
Clark Women’s Swimming & Diving will race in the Clark Invitational in the Kneller on Saturday, Feb. 6. at 1 p.m. It will be their last meet before the NEWMAC Championships.
Men’s Swimming & Diving
Clark Men’s Swimming & Diving has been improving steadily throughout the season. Improvement has been an overarching theme of the team this year, as they have several inexperienced swimmers; almost half of the team is comprised of first-years. For upperclassman Josh Feinberg (‘16), this year has been very different than past years, as he has been thrust into a leadership position.
“Last year I studied abroad in the spring and was just going through the motions with the team,” wrote Feinberg. “This year, with having such an amazing income of first-years, I’ve helped them make their transition into Clark life and especially into the swimmer life that they’ll come to endure for the next three years.”
Several first-years have emerged as top swimmers not only on the team, but in the conference. In last weekend’s out of conference meet against Brandeis, Bill Holloman (‘19) won the 100-yard breaststroke with a blistering time of 1:03.14. Two first-years also won in the 200-yard freestyle relay that featured Dylan Schrama (‘19), Lukas Leung (‘16), Julian Ortega (‘19), and Feinberg.
The team has not skipped a beat, and it has the same goals as always: “watch each other kick ass, improve our times, grow closer as a team…and survive,” as Feinberg wrote.
The Cougars will swim in the Clark Invitational, the team’s last home meet, on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m.