Since Nov. 30, the Vassar women’s basketball team has faced off against 14 opponents. They’ve defeated each one. The Brewers’ 14-game winning streak has them at 17-2 overall on the season and in first place in the Liberty League with an impressive 11-1 record in conference. Coach Candace Signor-Brown’s team has performed stellarly thus far and shows no signs of slowing down.
This past weekend, Jan. 25 and 26, the Brewers hosted Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University (SLU) in the AFC and posted two dominant wins, beating each Liberty League foe for the second time this season, keeping the winning streak alive. According to junior guard Jackie Cenan, the incredible amount of success this team has enjoyed can be attributed to two words: “Work Hard.” Short and sweet, this motto has given the players a common goal and has held each member of the team accountable and focused. This mentality has helped create a group that trusts one another and has chemistry.
Cenan explained that the team has been working day in and day out to achieve their stated goals. “We push ourselves to improve everyday even if it’s just by one percent. This ‘give one percent more’ attitude has challenged us as individuals and as a team to improve our mental and physical game,” Cenan commented. “We try to show up to practice every day checked in and ready to reach our daily goals. We take every game we play seriously, because no [Liberty League] team is going to roll over and give us a win.”
This weekend’s games highlighted the team’s positive attitude, confidence and determination to keep their winning streak going. First up for the Brewers in their homestand was St. Lawrence. In their previous matchup, the Brewers only beat the Saints by nine points. However, this time around, the Brewers secured a comprehensive win by a 15-point margin, 60-45. The game started off close, with the lead shifting back and forth between Vassar and St. Lawrence, but early in the second quarter, the Brewers charged ahead and never looked back.
Three juniors led the scoring for Vassar, with Cenan posting 17 points, junior forward Sophie Nick putting up 16 and junior guard Isa Peczuh with 14. Cenan, the team’s top point-getter at 15.9 a game, was crucial on the offensive end, especially in the games latter stages. The junior wing helped the Brewers secure the win, with 15 of her 17 points coming in the second half.
Just 19 hours after the win against St. Lawrence, Coach Signor-Brown’s team once again took the court, this time against Clarkson. The second home game of the weekend played out in much the same fashion as the first, with the Brewers posting a convincing 77-48 win. It was a team effort for Vassar, with four players putting up double digit points. Cenan led the Brewers again with 14 points, and Nick was right behind with 13. First-year guard Dani Douglas provided a three-point threat off the bench, adding 13 points, and sophomore guard Ryan DeOrio tacked on 11.
The Brewers started off the game slowly, as the Golden Knights rode hot three-point shooting to a 16-11 first quarter lead. However, the Brewers showed resilience in the second quarter, scoring an impressive 28 points and, by switching out their 2-3 zone, limiting Clarkson to only nine points. Vassar would continue to assert its dominance on the court, extending the lead to as many as 30 points.
Peczuh, who has made over 45 percent of all Vassar threes this season, explained that against Clarkson the team did a great job of sticking to the game plan and executing on both the offensive and defensive end. “Each quarter, we brought more focus and energy than the previous quarter,” Peczuh said. However, starting the game off strong is a facet that Peczuh believes the team can work on. “To improve, it would be great for us to bring those great qualities from the tip,” she explained.
As Cenan does, Peczuh attributes much of the team’s success this season to taking things one day at a time and concentrating less on who they are playing and more on internal improvement. “We have been really focused this season on doing our best each day to reach our larger goals,” Peczuh expressed. “As with every weekend, we won’t necessarily be focused on playing Union and Bard but more just getting better as a team. This means doing little things like getting to help side and secondary rotations and taking new reads in our offenses.”
Nick reiterated this sentiment in explaining what has helped contribute to the team’s incredible 14-game winning streak. “A lot of our success this season has stemmed from the closeness of our team and our shared motivation to get better every day. We are prepared for each game and know that if we play Vassar basketball, we are hard to beat,” Nick commented. “Throughout the season we have gained confidence in each other and ourselves, which has helped us to win a lot of games.”
Much of the team’s success this season can also be attributed to upperclassmen leadership. DeOrio commented on how the current juniors and seniors on the team— filling a void left by last spring’s graduation of key cogs Ariella Rosenthal, Samarah Cook and Kim Romanoff—have helped push the group to strive for its best self. “The upperclassman have been a huge guiding force on the team,” DeOrio explained. “They really set the tone and the energy on our team.” The sophomore guard also mentioned that the environment fostered by the upperclassmen allows everyone on the roster to contribute to the success of the team, be it in games or in practice.
Peczuh also commented on the strong chemistry this season and how it has impacted the team’s play. “The team dynamic is really special this season. We are a really small group, so I think that keeps us really connected,” added Peczuh. “The trust we’ve built with each other makes us resilient on and off the court.”
Wins against St. Lawrence and Clarkson have kept the Brewers’ momentum going as they head into road matchups against Bard and Union next weekend. While the team has a chance to stretch its winning streak to 16 games, that doesn’t seem to be what’s on the players’ minds. In relation to the group’s attitude going forward, Peczuh summarized,“We’re all just working hard, having fun and dreaming big.”