Women’s basketball team ready for return to court

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Webster women’s basketball team member Lauryn Freeman said preparation has been difficult. However, the team is hoping to once again be tournament champions. 

After winning the conference tournament in the 2017-2018 season, the Webster women’s basketball team had no returning starters for the next year. For the 2018-2019 season, head coach Jordan Olufson was going to send out a group of starters who had started just two collegiate games between them. 

The most experienced of them was Jaysea Morgan. Morgan had only started two games in her career at Webster but averaged around 17 minutes off the bench the two seasons prior. Naomi Johnson transferred to Webster from Greenville for her sophomore season. Johnson did not start a game for Greenville her freshman year. 

The other three starters had never appeared in a collegiate basketball game. Addison Buessink and Hannah Cottrell were freshmen. Kaylee Heggemann was redshirted in 2017. 

Despite the inexperience of the lineup, the team would end the season just four points from the conference tournament championship game. Webster lost in overtime to Greenville. Buessink would later say that season, and the loss, were vital for what the team did the next year. 

The women’s basketball team fights for the win against Iowa Wesleyan last season before COVID-19 interrupted their season. Photo by Breelyn Craig.

In 2019-2020 the team would once again cut down the net in victory, this time at its own court. The starters had all returned, although Heggemann would lose her season to injury. Freshman Julie Baudendistel would take her place. 

This year, Morgan graduated, but Johnson, Buessink and Cottrell will return for their third year as starters. Baudendistel is also back for her second season as a starter. 

The top candidate to replace Morgan is junior Lauryn Freeman. Freeman appeared in all but one game last year and made four starts. Freeman admired what kind of defender Morgan was. 

“[Morgan] was a big threat to other teams with her defense,” Freeman said. “She could instantly change a game with deflections, steals and drawing penalties.”

Freeman also said Morgan was a huge leader on the court as well. She said Morgan was always willing to tell a player what they needed to hear and help them do better in drills or scrimmages. 

Morgan finished her career first all-time in steals and sixth in assists. Last year, Morgan averaged one steal every 10.1 minutes and one assist every 8.7 minutes. Freeman averaged one steal every 9.8 minutes and one assist every 6.5 minutes. This suggests Freeman is capable of being just as efficient, if not more so, in steals and assists as Morgan was. Freeman was not the same caliber of scorer as Morgan last year, however. Freeman averaged .27 points per minute, compared to Morgan’s .46. 

Freshmen who could play significant minutes this season are Jordyn Grimes, Bethany Lancaster and Emily Ederer. Grimes is a guard from St. Louis. Freeman, a guard herself, sees a lot of potential in Grimes.

“[Grimes] is a true point-guard,” Freeman said. “She knows the plays, plays great defense and is showing she can be a great leader. She can control the tempo in high-stress situations.”

Lancaster and Ederer are forwards. Freeman thinks both could make an impact for the team on defense and scoring near the basket. 

According to Freeman, preparation for the season has been difficult, especially for the freshmen. Buessink said the Webster defense is tough to learn, and having a delayed off-season has made it especially tough for the freshmen to pick it up. 

The goal for the team this year is to once again be tournament champions. Freeman added that, specifically, the team wants to increase their deflections and assists per game. Freeman said that these are team stats and striving to increase those two stats will encourage team play and keep each other accountable. 

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Robby Floyd
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