For seniors on the women’s basketball team, the final regular season game of the season at Eastern Michigan will also be the last of their careers.
They brought a dynamic and varied style of play, as well as invaluable leadership over the course of a historic year.
“This group of seniors gives you all the intangibles that you need to build a program,” said head coach Sue Guevara. “They give you the hard work, the determination and the passion.”
Of the four players this season to reach the 1,000-point plateau, three of them are seniors. Niki DiGuilio, Jessica Green and Taylor Johnson showed their three unique play Wednesday against WMU.
The 3-point shot has been the CMU’s strength, and no one is more responsible for this than DiGuilio. She made four of seven shots from beyond the arc in her final home game, tallying 22 points. Her confident personality as well as style of play have been highlighted ever since her breakout sophomore season.
“DiGuilio came out there and the three balls just started falling,” Guevara said. “She’s probably one of the most confident players out there on the floor”
Jessica Green, hampered by injury last season, wanted to come back and prove that she was still the same player she was before the injury. Wednesday’s game against the Broncos was the final statement in a long list of achievements this season that has done exactly that for Green.
With 21 points, she shot 60 percent from the field and consistently gave Western Michigan fits by driving into the lane. Her quiet and cool nature has led to her developing knowledge of how to score.
“Everybody has a different personality but once we come out on the court we all tend to come together and find a way to win,” Green said.
Contrasting Green in style of play but not in output is Taylor Johnson. As the most physical and aggressive member of the Chippewas, Johnson is never afraid to draw contact, hit the floor or, dive into the seats to keep the ball in play.
“Taylor (Johnson) has really embraced her role of coming off the bench,” Guevara said. “She is coming in for anybody right now and I think that speaks to her versatility. She’s doing a better job of reading the mismatch and when she has somebody smaller on her, she’s looking to best them.”
Although the trio of DiGuilio, Green and Johnson accounted for most of the scoring on senior’s night, other seniors contributed without hitting the court. Guevara said she has the utmost respect for all of her players, even those who don’t see all the action.
“Kylie Welch is a coach on the bench; she’s a good teacher and is very well-respected by this team and it’s because of how hard she works,” Guevara said. “Then you look at (Jordan) LaDuke who’s embraced her role in coming off the bench and is very dependable. Lauren Bellamy, that poor kid, we never really got a chance to see what she could do but you don’t see her pouting on the bench. She’s in practice every single day doing whatever we need her to do.”
Whether they started or not, this group of outgoing seniors has left a legacy on the women’s basketball program that will not soon be forgotten.