The beginning of the 2011-12 season was rocky for the Mercyhurst women’s basketball team, but after the Kutztown victory, their fortunes seem to have changed.
The team is now at 7-5 overall, winning seven of the last eight games, and a perfect 6-0 at home.
Senior Megan Hoffman has been rising to the challenge for the Lakers this season. Helping the team on its winning streak, Hoffman showed her drive against Mansfield University by scoring 19 points in the Lakers’ 66-47 victory.
Hoffman is the only player whose scoring has improved in conference games, averaging more than 8 points against conference opponents.
“We came to the realization after losing our first four games that it wasn’t us. I think we’re all playing as a team now, and we’re clicking more and it’s showing on the court,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman also noted changes to her own game to help the team.
“My mentality now is to be a team player, whatever it takes. It’s my last year and my last chance being a senior. It’s not just for me, but for my team. I just really want to step it up for everyone,” Hoffman said.
Following a 15-15 record during the 2010-2011 season, the team is showing signs of improvement in 2011-12.
“I think we just have a strong connection as a team. Instead of playing like individuals, we’re playing like a family more now than ever,” she said. “We’re a little older as a team and have more seniority and that makes for such a great connection. We’re all very close.”
Hoffman, fellow senior Nikki Frederickson and junior Dana Banda, have played a very important role in leading this year’s team.
Last season Hoffman appeared in 29 of the 30 games and was the team’s sixth-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder.
This season, Hoffman has started in all 12 games and averages 8 points and 3 rebounds per game, which rank third and fifth on the team.
“The beginning was pretty rough on all of us. First couple games we didn’t know who we were as a team. Then we just all figured out our roles as individuals and a team as a whole. We stepped it up big time and decided that winning was who we were,” Hoffman said.
Following a 0-4 start, the Lakers stepped it up to win their two conference games against Shippensburg and Cheyney this past weekend. The Lakers are practicing hard and giving it their all to make this winning streak last.
“The seniors that leave each year set a standard. We’re growing each year as well, and we’re hoping to go all the way to playoffs. But our mentality is different this year than previous ones. PSAC and the championship is on our mind, and we love, trust and believe in each other every step of the way,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman and the Lakers’ next home game is on Jan. 14 against Slippery Rock at 1 p.m. in the Mercyhurst Athletic Center.