BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — One day away from their first game of the 2021 ECC Tournament, the Daemen women’s basketball team is coming into its fourth straight Tournament appearance with the same metaphorical chip on their shoulders.
Unlike last year’s chip heading into this tournament, this one is different, and still pretty raw.
“That was a major goal for us last season, to play in an NCAA game. We got the bid, we were so close, but definitely a huge motivation for us this season altogether,” Daemen senior Caroline White said. “Here we are again, so close to achieving that goal that it’s a main driver for us this season.
“The fact that we’re also hosting it at our home court is huge for us, it’s a big accomplishment for the program, for the school, and it makes us even more motivated to go out and play and win.”
Last season, the Wildcats made history, becoming the first Daemen women’s team to win the ECC Tournament and punch their ticket to the Big Dance.
While the disappointment of not being able to play in the 2020 NCAA Tournament is still there, Daemen is poised to repeat as ECC champions, and are determined to finally take the court in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
“We proved a lot last year by getting that far with that team, but it’s another year. Any team can play their best on any given day, so we’re going into it motivated,” Daemen junior Katie Titus said. “We need a second chance to redeem ourselves. We have one more thing to prove, and that’s being the best in the region. We just have to get through this weekend first.”
“When we didn’t get to play that last year, after all the hard work, from the beginning, it’s like okay we’re going to get another chance at this. That’s kind of been the mindset from the jump,” Daemen head coach Jenepher Banker said.
The Wildcats head into the ECC Tournament with an 11-1 overall record, and a perfect 9-0 through conference play. If they win on Thursday, they will host the tournament finals on Saturday afternoon.
“I definitely think that the experience of these last two years just being in the tournament then last year winning it provides a calming factor for sure coming into this weekend,” White said. “For our newer players, our freshmen and our transfers, actually last week we were doing ring sizing for our championship rings from last year, and they sat there and said that’s going to be us! Next week lets have those ring sizes again to commemorate our ECC Tournament championship this upcoming weekend. That’s motivation for them, and for the returning players it’s definitely a sense of confidence and reassurance that we’ve been here before.”
Top seed Daemen hosts Molloy on Thursday at 6 pm at Lumsden Gym.