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Women’s Basketball: McDaniel College eager for ‘clean slate’ this season with new coach

The last three seasons have been mediocre for McDaniel College’s women’s basketball team, and the veterans on this year’s squad want to be sure that doesn’t happen for a fourth time in a row.

The Green Terror opened practice for the 2019-20 season Monday with a new coach in Christin Gowan, their third coach in three years. That stretch didn’t produce a lot of wins — McDaniel went 35-40 in that span. But Gowan’s arrival appears to have sparked a fire within a group of seven seniors that wants to cap their college career the right way.

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“Even in the last three years, we’ve sort of been this close from the best teams ... this close from making the Centennial Conference tournament,” said Liv Storer, one of McDaniel’s senior forwards. “For us, seven seniors, we’ve gone through three years already of being this close. I think we’re really hungry.”

Storer (5 feet, 10 inches) averaged 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds last season and returns as a go-to player for Gowan, who was hired in May as the eighth coach in McDaniel history and only the fifth since 1967. Rick Little served as an interim coach last season when he replaced Becky Martin, who coached the Terror from 1981-2018.

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Martin was diagnosed with cancer following that season, and stepped down as coach. She retired last spring.

Gowan spent the last two years at Southern Vermont as women’s hoops coach, and before that she was an assistant coach at Occidental College in Los Angeles from 2015-17. She served as an assistant coach at Division II California State University-Stanislaus, her alma mater (Class of 2010).

Gowan was a four-year member of the women’s basketball team and was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a senior. She also earned a spot on the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s All-Academic Team three times. She was an Academic All-District second-team selection in 2011.

McDaniel’s new coach said she hopes to bring some consistency to a program that has been in flux in recent years.

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“I think them understanding that it’s just a clean slate is really going to help,” Gowan said. “I think I’m in an easier position that anyone else has been in in the past, just because I don’t have to rely on, ‘Well, this is what people were recruited to do,‘ or, ‘This is the style we’ve always played.’ Being able to start fresh is exciting for me and for them.”

The Green Terror lost their leading scorer from a year ago when sophomore guard Caroline Ward (10.9 ppg) transferred after the season. But Anna Mondoro, a senior guard, is back after scoring 10.4 points per game. Also returning are regulars Emily Metzger, Jamese Word, and Hannah Zajac.

Plus, Gowan said the openings should give other players on her roster, perhaps ones that were high school standouts in their own right, a chance to shine.

Word said she’s looking forward to see it all come together.

“We’re not a tall team, so we have to bring something,” she said. “We have to differentiate ourselves from our opponents. I definitely believe that our defense can be the thing that sets us apart.”

Word, a guard, averaged 2.2 steals and 2.1 assists for McDaniel a year ago as one of the team’s top reserves. The Green Terror held their opponents below 60 points per game, but their offense only mustered 58.3 per game. They finished 12-13, 7-13 in the Centennial Conference.

“I’m kind of excited to see what [Gowan] has for us on offense, and mostly defense because I’m a defensive player,” Word said. “I’m really interested in what we’ll be doing.”

It begins Nov. 15 at Gill Center for the McDaniel Tip-off Tournament, with the Green Terror hosting Penn State-Berks.

Gowan said the Terror’s energy has been high, and she’s “cautiously optimistic” about her team’s shot at success with a month to go before the season starts. And she’s eager to try and help McDaniel’s veterans finish strong.

“They came here to go to the NCAA tournament,” Gowan said. “They came here to win conference championships. And they haven’t done that, so they have a chip on their shoulder. The whole senior class does.”

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