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img_womensbb_featureThe members of the MSOE women’s basketball team share a special bond and that chemistry has led to the most impressive season in program history in 2014-15.

Shaylan Reardon (AS, ’17) transferred to MSOE from a larger school that had a team nearly twice the size of her new Red & White squad. She was welcomed by her new teammates, who have gone out of their way to acclimate her to her new school and the atmosphere of being a Raider.

Holly Denfeld (AE/CM, ’17) is an Academic All-American, who is a standout in both basketball and track and field. She has been a repeat first-team all-conference player in both sports, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. Balancing such a work load is difficult for any student, and when Denfeld stays up late most nights, she is often joined by a teammate to keep her company.

Megan Kroll (ME, ’16) is a co-captain who has been through her own difficult times with injury. On Senior Day, when Ali LoBue (NU, ’15) was ruled out of the game with an injury that cost her much of the season, she thought outside the box and helped the coaches and athletic training staff come to a solution to allow her to see the floor one last time.

These players see each other not just as friends and teammates, but as family. That bond, which has strengthened them off the court, has led to impressive results on the court.

The Raiders won a school-record 20 games this season. That total is a holy number in college basketball, one which separates a good season from a great one. They posted a school-record seven-game winning streak early in the season, then equaled that mark as they rose up the conference standings late in the season.

Teams that have been traditionally a thorn for the Red & White became beatable this past season. Concordia Wisconsin, Edgewood and Lakeland were three teams that MSOE had faced nearly 50 times each and won just 11 times. This season, the Raiders went 6-0 against those teams, including a 55-53 win over CUW on Feb. 11, the first time they had defeated their local rival in more than 13 years.

Success is not just measured in wins on the basketball court for this group of women. Denfeld stresses, “We are not just athletes. We are ‘student-athletes.’” It is not a sentiment lost on the team, as the group boasts a cumulative grade point average of 3.593—the highest of any of the university’s 19 varsity programs.

The manner in which the women’s basketball team goes about achieving success is truly special, and that brings us back to Senior Day. LoBue, missing from the lineup since suffering a painful shoulder injury, was allowed to dress for, but not play in, her final home collegiate game.

The risk of further injury was too great to risk by putting her into the game. It was another game she would be relegated to the sidelines.

Late in regulation, Kroll approached head coach Jessica Ott with an idea. Once approved, LoBue was able to check into the game during a free throw. She stepped onto the floor and replaced Reardon, taking a position at the opposite end of the court from the action. A missed free throw and MSOE rebound—just three seconds of game time—later, Ott called timeout and allowed LoBue to exit the game, unscathed, and to the applause of the crowd and her teammates.

The thoughtfulness this team demonstrates towards one another, exemplified in actions like that, are truly what sets this team apart and unites them as family. It is evident that every member of the team cares not just about the game, but the teammates they play the game with.

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