by Shannon Scovel
Every time Stirling women’s basketball captain Shannon Flippard took the ball up court on Wednesday night against Heriot-Watt, she did so on a mission. Stirling entered the game against Heriot-Watt undefeated, and while Flippard said that perfect record created some stress and added expectations for the team, she aimed to inspire confidence for her teammates through her playmaking efforts.
Her work paid off.
The home side dominated Heriot-Watt from start to finish, ending the game with a 78-41 lead, a significant improvement from their last win against the team when they squeezed out the victory by just five points.
“It was a really solid performance from the girls,” Flippard said. “We’re nervous going into most games because we are undefeated and we want to keep our record, but we were all up for it, and we played really good team basketball.”
Individually, Flippard led the team with 21 points, scoring 14 of those points in the second half as she helped extend her team’s lead over Heriot-Watt. Team-mate Shannon Purves also added 15 points as Stirling’s second top scorer of the night. Through a combined team effort, Stirling nearly doubled the scoring output they produced against Heriot-Watt last semester when they captured a 42-47 on Nov. 22.
The team’s rapid improvement and dedication to success comes from a desire to play for one another, to become a more winning team, and to move up into a higher BUCS division, head coach Amy Kirkhouse said after the game. Stirling will play Heriot-Watt again in the BUCS Cup in the next few weeks, and Kirkhouse believes that Wednesday win will give the team more confidence heading into that next matchup.
“They only scored 41 points, which is really good for us,” Kirkhouse said, praising her team’s defensive efforts. “It would have been nice to get to 80 for us, but it was definitely a team effort. Everybody played, everyone contributed.”
Outstanding from womens basketball! What a result! pic.twitter.com/tltr5d5kh1
— Stirling Sports Union (@Stir_Sports) January 31, 2018
Kirkhouse, who has led the team for the last three years, said she has watched the club grow from a social group to a competitive squad with all of the players coming to practices and games determined to expand their skills and earn more victories. The transformation is still ongoing, she said, and she has incorporated more team-building activities and events to help the players become closer with one another.
Communication has also played a role in Stirling’s undefeated record, and Kirkhouse said the team’s cheering and spirit has helped create a culture where winning is the norm.
“The guys on the bench, even the ones that are injuries are always cheering. The thing that we are trying to focus on at the moment is that if you are on court, you’re talking a lot and I think that kind of communication leads to spirit.”
Enthusiasm for the team became contagious on Wednesday night both on and off the bench with the crowd in the Gannochy actively supporting their university in their victory. As one of the last Big Wednesday fixtures, the women’s team saw one of the largest fan bases of the day, and the team didn’t’ disappoint.
Kirkhouse hopes that this excitement for the team and its success will continue for the rest of the season, but she said that the team’s self-motivation will be a driving factor in helping them reach their goals of advancing in the BUCS divisions.
“These guys are like really motivated and they want to do well, and I think that’s probably the main thing, is it’s just their commitment to coming to practice and games.”