By Michael Langston
Webster women’s basketball hit the ground running for the 2019-20 season, winning their first game by 23 points on Nov. 15. The Gorloks look to come back from what sophomore guard Hannah Cottrell called a “heartbreaking” end to last season: an overtime defeat in the conference tournament semifinals back in Feb.
“The loss to Greenville was hard,” Cottrell said. “Where we ended up last year, we had a good season. We obviously didn’t want to lose that game.”
Senior guard Jaysea Morgan said this season the team has the confidence they’ll need to overcome last season’s end.
“We started off the season two and one this year, but I think by the time we get back to conference playoffs, we’re going to be clicking and gelling so well that it’s going to be a totally different ball game,” Morgan said.
With the starting core returning for the women’s team, the Gorloks didn’t have to face a recurring problem almost every college program deals with: replacing graduated players. Junior forward Darieana Hunter believes this advantage will help the team immensely this season.
“Last year was chaotic because we had all new people,” Hunter said. “Everything was just so fresh and so new. We changed up some things, but this year we know what to expect. ”
With a 25-game season and the conference tournament at the end of February, the Gorloks will see familiar foes. In addition to SLIAC opponents, the Gorloks also have faced off against Covenant College in Georgia to secure their second win of the season and will also play against the likes of Whittier College in California.
Webster will face Greenville twice, once on Dec. 9 at Greenville and again Jan. 29 at home, according to Webster Athletics.
“That whole game against Greenville last season fuels us for this year,” Cottrell said.
The team is looking to overcome more than just a hard end to last season. Hunter is undergoing recovery after tearing her ACL during a game last season, ending her year.
“Mentally, I’m trying to get stronger within myself,” Hunter said. “It’s all a mental game at this point. I’m ready to come back and excited to get back out on the court. Right now, I’m just being as positive as I can.”
Morgan was vocal about how Hunter’s return later this year could help the team going forward this season.
“Dari is a huge burst of energy,” Morgan said. “So I feel like when she comes back it’s going to be great for us. It gives us another post, it gives us another burst of energy on the floor.”
For Hunter, her personal comeback was about more than getting herself back on the court. She wants the team to get back on track and working towards the goal of a SLIAC conference title.
“We went far last year, we should go farther this year. Nothing less than conference. I hope we get to the [NCAA Tournament] Sweet 16, that would be sweet.”