By: Kyle Isaacs ~Staff Writer~
The Xavier women’s basketball team began its season with a splash, though the breaking news story was not ideal for the Musketeers.
Less than one month prior to the start of the 2013-14 campaign, head coach Amy Waugh resigned from her position, forcing then-assistant coach Brian Neal to assume head coaching duties.
Neal was initially tagged as the interim coach but was named the full-time coach on Nov. 7. Three days later, the Musketeers tipped off their season with a loss at Ohio University, which proved to be a sign of things to come for the women’s team’s season. The Musketeers finished the year with eight wins and 23 losses, coupled with a 3-15 record in the Big East Conference.
There were some bright spots for the Musketeers during the season despite the losing record. Xavier traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich. early in the season to capture a 79-75 overtime victory over the University of Michigan.
The Wolverines’ successful season made the Musketeers’ win that much more impressive. The women’s team, which ended its nonconference season with a 5-8 record, hoped for better results in its inaugural season in the Big East.
Despite dropping their first Big East game against DePaul University, the Musketeers added two conference wins in early January over St. John’s University and Georgetown. A few weeks later, Xavier picked up its third home conference win with a 75-72 victory over Providence College.
However, the defeat of the Friars on Jan. 18 marked the final victory for the Musketeers and began a string of bad events for the Musketeers. Just as the Musketeers’ season started with an unexpected departure, the middle of its campaign similarly included an early dismissal.
On Feb. 14, senior guard Shatyra Hawkes was dismissed from the team for a “violation of athletic department rules,” according to the official Xavier press release. Hawkes was the team’s leading scorer and distributor, averaging 13.9 points per game and 3.7 assists per game through 24 games.
To make matters worse, the women’s team lost its final 13 games of the year, capped off by a 56-37 loss in the first round of the Big East Conference tournament to Georgetown. Following the loss against Georgetown, Neal discussed the challenging season.
“From October on, it’s been tough,” Neal said to reporters on hand. “I feel like we overachieved this season, (but) we were much more competitive … early in the season.”
Neal concluded his thoughts by noting that the coaching staff will assess the team’s current position and despite the struggles this year, the team ended on a positive note, stating that Xavier will “certainly be better the next time we play in the Big East.”