Mustang hoops enter winter break with goals in mind

Men’s and women’s basketball will rest for the next week, focused on the remaining bulk of the season
Sophomore standout Tessa Boswell
Sophomore standout Tessa Boswell
Ava Treakle

Stevenson men’s basketball sits at 5-4 following a split two-game road trip in Ohio this week, while the women’s team (3-6) looks to snap their cold streak going into the shortened winter break. 

The men competed in the Wittenberg Holiday Classic at Wittenburg University Dec. 19-20 in Springfield, Ohio. Tuesday saw a thrilling overtime team win over Manchester College, with four players scoring in the double digits. In Wednesday’s game against the hosts, the Mustangs fell 68-79, despite a 27-point performance from junior point guard Rasheed Cooley.

Junior guard Rasheed Cooley had a 27-point outing Wednesday night (Sabina Moran)

The team credits their fight and ability to play hard together as reasons for their success in such tightly contested battles.  

“We were down 5 [Tuesday] with less than a minute left and had given up a 16-point lead, but we never got discouraged or started going outside ourselves,” Cooley said. “I like how we stayed together, battled, and came out with a close win.” 

Another focus for the Mustangs this year has been stifling defense. 

“Especially going into the conference… it’s going to be a dogfight each game,” said junior guard Ron Ayers. “We’ve been able to get stops and we have really good size like Cam Smith, Nate [Arrington], or me who can all guard different positions, which has been huge for our success.” 

Junior guard Ronald Ayers (Stevenson University)

Nobody exemplifies the competitive spirit of this squad quite like Ayers. After being diagnosed at the end of his freshman year with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system, Ayers was forced to the sideline for his entire sophomore season. After taking just enough time to recover, Ayers has been a starter this year averaging over 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists, while serving as one of the squad’s most dominant shooters from beyond the arc. 

“Last year I did really want to be out there, so it was an anxious and exciting feeling to get back on the court,” Ayers said. “I’m just grateful to be able to play my sport.” 

Coming off a loss to No. 3 ranked Christopher Newport University, the women’s team aimed to bounce back Wednesday night against the Salisbury Seagulls. 

The Mustangs were out to an early lead of as many as 11, but after a streak of fouls and turnovers in the second quarter, the team found themselves trailing by 8 at the end of the half. The team played from behind until late in the third quarter when a score from junior guard Jaidyn Harris knotted it up, 42-42. By the final whistle, the turnover deficit proved too great as Stevenson fell 73-51. 

Despite the early string of losses, women’s basketball is looking to continue development as a team following their brief winter break. 

“We’re really young,” said sophomore forward Tessa Boswell, recent recipient of the MAC player of the week award. “All of us are willing to learn and we’re really coachable.” 

The team hopes to return with a newfound focus on improving on any weaknesses that the recent streak has brought to light. 

“We just need to be able to finish the game and keep the same intensity throughout,” Boswell said. “We need to finish the defensive play by getting a rebound and that comes from communicating and holding each other accountable.” 

Competition resumes for both squads following a brief holiday break with the men competing in the Christopher Newport Shootout, Dec. 28-29, and the women’s side opening MAC conference play in Owings Mills gymnasium against King’s College, Dec. 29. 

Streaming for all games will be available through gomustangsports.com. 

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About the Contributor
Ava Treakle, Sports Reporter
Ava is a freshman business administration major on a sports management track with a minor in photography. She is from Fredericksburg, Virginia and is a member of the Stevenson women's lacrosse and track teams. In the future Ava wants to become a sports journalist and photographer. She is also our main sports reporter for Stevenson football.
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