December 3, 2021 | SPORTS | By Michael Braithwaite

While most students were returning from Fall Break last weekend, the Colorado College women’s basketball team competed in the Rocky Mountain Thanksgiving Classic. The event was hosted by CC at Reid Arena.

This tournament marked the final two games of CC’s “preseason,” as they were the last out of conference matchups before the start of SCAC play this week.

CC’s first game of the tournament was on Friday, Nov. 26 against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. The Tigers outscored the Crusaders 18-5 in the first quarter and were able to hold even with them through the final three, propelling CC to a win.

Forward Rosie Braley ’23 scored 15 points in the victory and point guard Anna Fanelli ’23 contributed with 11 assists. Off the bench, guard Healy Bledsoe ’25 scored 10 points and hit two three-pointers in her 29 minutes of play.

Braley, specifically, was an important player in CC’s early offensive push, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter. However, she made it clear that the victory came not from her early individual success but from the whole team’s ability to keep up the good play down the stretch. 

“This weekend I think was the first time we’ve really played all four quarters,” Braley said[1] . “When we went to Oregon [for a series] last week, we had a lot of second halves and not a lot of full games.”

The Tigers’ second game of the tournament was on Saturday, Nov. 27 against the 16-ranked Hardin-Simmons University. Guard Audrey Bayston ’24 led the team in scoring with 22 points in 33 minutes, and forward Zoe Tomlinson ’25 hit a crucial layup to put the Tigers up 73-71 with 1:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. 

However, a three-pointer from HSU guard Hallie Edmondson put the Cowboys up by one with 41 seconds left and ended up being the final score in the matchup.

“We competed with them in every quarter,” said guard Olivia Xerras ’24. “I think [the game] definitely energized us more than anything else, because we know that we can compete with [top ranked] teams like that for sure.”

Fanelli also spoke about the Tigers’ success this past weekend, highlighting the improved chemistry of the team during the two games compared to the previous week.

“Something’s been clicking a little bit,” Fanelli said. “A lot of times a person off the bench will come in and hit a big shot or get a big stop and it gives a lot of energy to all of us.[2] 

One of the keys to CC’s good play as of late has been the performance of first years coming off the bench and playing well. Even with more limited playing time compared to the upperclassmen, the first years are making a strong impression on a young team with no seniors on its roster.

“A lot of them are really good shooters,” Fanelli said. “Anyone can come in and hit a shot.”

“They all make great differences in all different ways,” said Braley. “It’s really exciting to see them doing that now and looking forward to their future is amazing.”

In addition to the first years, another improvement to the Tigers this offseason came in the form of Assistant Coach Lauren Brocke, who joined the staff following her playing tenure at CSU

Bringing a plethora of basketball experience and youthful energy to the team, Brocke has made a noticeable difference in the work ethic and practice approach of the Tigers this season compared to years past.

“She’s stepped up to this role tremendously,” said Xerras. “[She’s] a really great presence for us and also knows how to motivate us and knows what to say at all times.”

Although they are a young team, the Tigers are ready to prove themselves at both the conference and national level and show that they are able to compete with other top teams in the country.

Following a home game on Thursday, Dec. 2 against the University of St. Thomas, the Tigers will go on the road for their next game on Sunday, Dec. 5 at UC Santa Cruz.

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