2019-20 CWRU Women’s Basketball Season Recap

2019-20 CWRU Women's Basketball Team Photo

With one of its youngest teams in a number of years, the Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team overcame some early growing pains to finish the 2019-20 season with a 10-15 overall record, including a 5-9 mark in University Athletic Association games to place sixth in the league standings.

The Spartans' 2019-20 roster featured just a pair of seniors – guards Alicia Marie Gonzales and Kendall McConico and totaled seven players who were in their first year with the team. However, as the returners adjusted to new roles and the new faces began to gel, the team was able to rally back from four-straight losses to start the season to win 10 of their next 14 games. The success came despite playing a schedule that ranked as the 21st-toughest in all of Division III during the year, and included six games against teams nationally ranked or receiving votes in the final D3hoops.com and WBCA Top-25 polls, of which, the Spartans claimed a pair of victories.

CWRU was particularly strong on its own court during the campaign, going 7-4 overall in home contests, including seven wins in nine games at Horsburgh Gymnasium. The Spartans finished the season averaging 67.0 points per game, while shooting 39.0% from the floor overall, including a 28.7% mark on three-point attempts. The team's 1,676 total points scored during the year marked the seventh-highest single-season total in program history, while the squad's 157 three pointers made were also the seventh-most in team history. CWRU also registered the second-highest free throw percentage (74.1%) and 12th-most blocks (85) in program history during the 2019-20 season.

One of the players to step up in a new role for the Spartans was sophomore guard/ forward Abbey Lawrence. Lawrence became the seventh player in program history to be named to the D3hoops.com All-Great Lakes Region Team, in addition to earning a spot on the All-UAA First Team. She led the team and ranked second in the conference with 16.2 points per game, while becoming just ninth player in team history to score 400 points in a season. She added 4.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 42.6% from the floor and 33.3% from three-point range, and her 85.4% free throw shooting percentage ranked 26th among Division III players during the year.

A new addition that made a huge impact on the Spartans was graduate student forward Melissa Heath, who was named an honorable mention to the All-UAA team in her first season after transferring from Division I Brown. Heath set a program single-season record with a 57.2% field goal percentage, while ranking second on the team during the season with 10.5 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per contest. She also paced the team and ranked third in the league with 40 blocked shots, the ninth-highest total by a Spartan in program history. Among Heath's standout games during the year were four games of 20 or more points, including a 35-point outburst against Emory on February 23.

Two other key new addition to the team were first-year players Isabella Mills and McKenna Gross. Mills scored 9.5 points per game and led the team with 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per contest, while Gross added 7.8 points per game. Other impact players for the Spartans during the campaign included McConico (5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds), junior forward Emma Cain (5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds), sophomore guard Alyssa Hyland (4.8 points) and Gonzales (3.0 points and a team-high 2.4 assists per game). Gonzales also ended her career with 248 assists, the ninth-most ever by a CWRU player.

After the slow start to their season, the Spartans broke out with a 96-79 win over Waynesburg at home on November 19, a season-high point total for the team. After splitting games at the M-Club Tournament at Mount Union College, during which the team fell to current top-ranked Hope and defeated Juniata, and a road loss at John Carroll, the Spartans began a stretch of six-straight home games that led into conference play.

The Spartans began their home stand on December 7 with a triple-overtime win over Denison, 79-70, as the team overcame a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to pick up the victory. Three Spartan players – Heath, McConico and Mills – registered double-doubles in the game, marking just the second time in team history that CWRU has accomplished the feat. CWRU went on to defeat Wooster 95-70 on December 20, giving Head Coach Jennifer Reimer the 300th win of her career, and capped off non-conference play with a 5-6 record following a 71-51 victory over Chatham on January 2.

The Spartans kicked off conference play with a dominating 78-51 win over Carnegie Mellon, and followed that with one of the best weekends in the program's history. On Friday, January 17, CWRU bested Washington (Mo.) 74-73, coming back from a 14-point deficit in the second half, and winning the game on a traditional three-point play with 5.3 seconds left in regulation by Gross. Two days later, the Spartans topped 14th-ranked and eventual conference champion Chicago 77-71 to wrap-up an undefeated six-game home stretch.

The Spartans claimed two more wins during the season, defeating Brandeis 80-68 and NYU (which would later qualify for the NCAA Championship field) 87-75 during the same road weekend. Over the two games, Lawrence averaged 29.0 points and 7.0 rebounds, earning USBWA Player of the Week honors, while Heath averaged 23.0 points and 7.5 rebounds during the two victories.

In addition to the team's achievements on the court during the season, four members of the team – Alexa Hsia, Hyland, Lawrence and Olivia Perkins – received UAA Winter All-Academic honors.

The Spartans earned the following awards during the 2019-20 season:

 

D3hoops.com All-Great Lakes Region

Abbey Lawrence

Sophomore

Guard/ Forward

Third Team

 

All-University Athletic Association

Abbey Lawrence

Sophomore

Guard/ Forward

First Team

Melissa Heath

Graduate Student

Forward

Honorable Mention

 

USBWA Division III Women's Basketball National Player of the Week

Abbey Lawrence

Sophomore

Guard/ Forward

Feb. 4

 

D3hoops.com Team of the Week

Abbey Lawrence

Sophomore

Guard/ Forward

Jan. 21, Feb. 4

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

Abbey Lawrence

Sophomore

Guard/ Forward

Jan. 6, Jan. 20, Feb. 3

WHoopDirt.com Coach of the Week

Jennifer Reimer

Jan. 21

 

M-Club All-Tournament Team

Abbey Lawrence

Sophomore

Guard/ Forward



The following were the CWRU team leaders in 2019-20:

 

Points per game

Abbey Lawrence

16.2

Rebounds per game

Isabella Mills

7.4

Assists per game

Alicia Marie Gonzales

2.4

Blocks per game

Melissa Heath

1.6

Steals per game

Isabella Mills

1.6

Field Goal % (min. 10 attempts)

Melissa Heath

57.2%*

3-pt % (min. 10 attempts)

Abbey Lawrence & Kendall McConico

33.3%

 

*School Single-Season Record