March 12, 2014
By Andrea Sidlauskas
The Warhawks women’s wheelchair basketball team has done it again.
After finishing the regular season with a spotless 13-0 record, the team clinched its third consecutive national championship title at the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament this past weekend, overcoming Edinboro University, 75-23, and the University of Alabama, 69-54, to bring home the prize once again.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments we’ve had,” graduate assistant player Mareike Adermann said. “It wasn’t very much of a surprise, just because we were undefeated throughout the season, and we were working towards it to where it was kind of in sight.”
Although the ’Hawks were far from underdogs in the fight for the title, the No. 1-seeded team battled its way to the championship to cap off a successful season.
“Throughout the season, it was really a team effort,” Adermann said. “We’ve always had at least four people in double digits pretty much every game, and that worked out the same way in the championship game. It wasn’t one player leading us, it was all of us.”
The team features several international players, as well as experienced athletes, who boast impressive résumés.
Mariska Beijer, 21, was added to the roster this season after representing the Netherlands in the most recent Paralympic Games.
She is the third-best scorer of all female athletes at the Paralympics, averaging 23.1 points per game.
Adermann shot a flawless 8-8 from the floor in the first game against Edinboro University and 7-9 from the charity stripe in the final matchup against the University of Alabama to secure the championship title.
The ’Hawks defeated Edinboro in the semifinal, 75-23, and they outperformed the Scots in almost every category.
The ’Hawks racked up a shooting percentage of 63 percent and a free-throw percentage of 85, while capitalizing on 14 turnover points and recording 12 steals.
Edinboro shot 24.4 percent from the field and posted a free-throw percentage of zero percent, but recorded four points on turnovers and managed four steals.
In the championship game, the ’Hawks shot 50 percent from the floor, compared to Alabama’s 38.5 percent, and 40 percent from behind the arc, almost quintupling Alabama’s 8.3 percent.
“It was a very hard-fought game,” Adermann said. “It actually got very aggressive on both sides. There were a lot of fights going on the court, literally.”
Despite the physicality of the game, Adermann said the ’Hawks came out with high intensity at the beginning and were up 21-5.
But that was when the team started to get slightly overconfident and miss its shots.
Luckily, Adermann said her team had enough experience to reject any doubts they might have had and return to the court after halftime unaffected.
“The game was closer than I anticipated,” Adermann said. “We struggled a little bit towards the end of the first half.
The other team was getting close, and something had to happen for us to win it. I’m very happy we could make that work.”
The ’Hawks can now celebrate the program’s highest achievement of back-to-back-to-back national championships and congratulate themselves on a successful season.