The Framingham State women’s basketball team has been consistently successful over the years and especially of late. After making it to the MASCAC Championship last season and falling short of the title, the Rams are dominating this year and are the favorites to win this time around.
While sitting at 14-5 overall, the Rams are 6-0 in the MASCAC and own first place in the conference. Backing their record is a six-game winning streak and an 8-1 record at home this year.
They also lead the MASCAC in field goal percentage (43.8%), 3-point field goal percentage (35%), rebounds per game (45%), opponent field goal percentage (35.8%), and are tied for first in assists with 16.1 per game.
“Our teams’ success so far this season has been awesome. Toward the beginning of the season, we struggled to find our identity, but we were able to find it come league play which is most important,” senior captain Emily Velozo said. “Our team gels together on the court and I think a big reason for this is because of the connections and memories we make with each other outside of basketball.”
Last season’s team led the MASCAC in only two offensive stats, field goal and free throw percentage, showing a massive leap in the Rams’ offense.
“We are very well rounded this year in terms of personnel,” senior captain Mary Kate O’Day said. “We have scorers, defenders, shooters, drivers, etc. Which has been a huge help this year and a big reason why we have been so successful.”
“I think it comes down to us all going to practice every day wanting to work hard and push each other. We are all competitors and just want to win,” sophomore Liana Cunningham said. “Plus, with great leadership from our captains and our coaching staff, we have a really good thing going. When the ball goes in everything is much easier, we have amazing shooters who can shoot from anywhere at any time, plus with our bigs being able to stretch the court and pull a three helps a lot with our offense.”
The entire team has played a huge part in their success so far, some individuals to highlight are Velozo, O’Day, Cunningham, and Flannery O’Connor.
O’Connor is a freshman and started the season on the bench, but it did not take long for her to crack the starting lineup.
After breaking into a starting role, O’Connor has excelled. She currently leads the MASCAC in field goal percentage (52.7%) and sits in second for blocks per game (1.6) and total blocks with 31, while scoring the eighth most points per game with 12.2.
“It has definitely been hard to get adjusted to college play, but I wouldn’t be learning as much about the game if it wasn’t for my teammates,” O’Connor said. “I give them all the credit. We have great communication and we all share a love for basketball, so I think that has made it a lot easier.”
With O’Connor making a run for Rookie of the Year, the reigning Rookie of the Year -Cunningham – has performed well in her second time around. The game managing point guard has always been able to control the flow of the game, and it is shown through her assist totals.
She currently sits in second for both assists per game (3.6) and total assists with 68. While most players experience a sophomore slump, Cunningham is still producing at the point guard position.
“I love playing on this team, I go into practice every day looking around and just appreciating where I am,” Cunningham said. “My teammates have become great friends of mine and the season has been rewarding and fun.”
O’Day is once again having a tremendous season as she sits in the top three for points per game for the third year in a row with 18.1 points per game this year.
To go along with that, O’Day also is currently second in rebounds per game (8.7), total rebounds (165), 3-point field goal percentage (39.6%), and sits in the top three for multiple other stats.
“I have to give my teammates and coaches all of the credit. They are the ones who put me in a position where I am able to be successful,” O’Day said. “I could not do it without them, and I am very grateful to be a part of such an amazing organization. I could not be the player I am without them.”
While O’Day is making a case for Player of the Year, her teammate Velozo is right there with her.
The dominant guard has come into her own this year and elevated her overall game to new levels, improving drastically on offense.
She currently leads the MASCAC in 3-point percentage (47.3%), and is second in points per game with 18.7, as well as in the top three in almost every offensive statistic.
“The only thing I can attribute to this is hard work. The offseason is the best season and it is the most important season for a player who wants to develop their skills,” Velozo said. “It is important for a player to never be satisfied with their performance in any past seasons, because if they are, they won’t strive to be even greater.”
With a MASCAC Finals loss last season, the Rams have come back revamped and ready to dominate the conference.
“We want the championship of course,” O’Connor said. “But we focus on each game at a time, definitely getting better each day at practice is huge as well.”
“Our ultimate goal for this season is to win the championship,” O’Day said. “We have come very close in years past but have not been able to pull it off. Hopefully, this is the year we are able to come out on top.”
“The plan to achieve that goal is to get better each and every day as a team at practice,” Velozo said. “And to not take any teams lightly and take it one game at a time until we reach that goal.”
There are still six games left in the regular season, but get ready for the MASCAC Playoffs, as the Rams will surely make an exciting run.