The Providence College Women’s Basketball team enters the season with high hopes, eager to fully showcase their potential after a turbulent 2020-21 season that was frequently interrupted by COVID-19 postponements and cancellations.
The Friars retain their two top scorers in Mary Baskerville ’22 and Alyssa Geary ’22, senior leaders who will hold down the team’s frontcourt standing at 6’3” and 6’4”, respectively. This season will also allow for other players to shine as the Friars lost four key members of the team, including point guard Chanell Williams ’21, who graduated from PC and is continuing her education and athletic career in-state at the University of Rhode Island. She shot over 41 percent from beyond the arc last season. Kyra Spiwak ’21 is another three-point threat who will need to be replaced, as she shot a serviceable 33.3 percent on a team high of 108 attempts last season.
Fortunately for PC Women’s Basketball, the team has both returning players and an influx of new talent from transfers and incoming freshmen to compensate for their departures from last season. On paper, Coach Crowley has done a fantastic job recruiting and the future of the program looks incredibly promising.
Lauren Sampson ’23 seems set to fill part of the void left by the Friars’ graduating shooters. The junior from Waltham, MA, averaged only 10 minutes a game this past season but hit the fourth-most three-pointers on the team. Expect her to play a key role in the Friars’ offense this year, especially given that defenses will need to focus on the interior presence of Baskerville and Geary. Likewise, Andreana Wrister ’22GS, a graduate transfer from Tennessee State, will also be a vital player on the perimeter. She had the third highest number of three-pointers in the Ohio Valley Conference this past season. Wrister also blossomed in her role in her final season for the Tigers, improving her scoring by nearly 10 points from her junior to senior year. The Friars will need her to accomplish much of what Williams did last year offensively in instigating scoring from the point guard position and stretching the floor with her shooting.
Speaking of shooting, Coach Crowley was able to recruit Meghan Huerter ’25 to Friartown, a player who set a record for the most three-point field goals made at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY. The marksmanship seems to run in the family as her older brother, Kevin, is one of the best young three-point specialists in the NBA and plays for the Atlanta Hawks. Huerter is 5’11” and has unlimited range, creating a tough matchup for any opposing defense. Similarly, shooting guard Audrey Koch ’25 from Iowa City, Iowa stands at 5’10” and knows how to get a bucket in any situation. Similar to Huerter, Koch is a threat from beyond the arc, and she was even a McDonald’s All-American Nominee during her senior year of high school.
Coach Crowley also recruited two-time Maine Gatorade Player of the Year Emily Archibald ’25. She was also named 2021’s Miss Maine Basketball, along with a host of other accolades. At Kennebunk High School, Archibald averaged a whopping 24.6 points and 20.7 rebounds a game. The 6’2” freshman is versatile with the ability to play both in the post and on the perimeter, and has the potential to grow into one of the program’s top players.
In the Friar frontcourt, while fans should anticipate Baskerville and Geary getting most of the run, Olivia Olsen ’25 may also see minutes off the bench and will certainly provide the Friars with depth at the position. Expect Olsen to fill the shoes of her namesake in Olivia Orlando ’21, who was a tenacious rebounder for the Friars throughout her four years on the roster. Despite being undersized at 5’10”, Orlando tallied the second most rebounds for PC last season, and her presence on the court will be missed. Olsen stands taller at 6’3” and acts as a more typical post presence, and after Baskerville and Geary graduate, many expect her to be an integral piece of the Friar frontcourt in the future. She played AAU ball with fellow newcomer Huerter, and at Niskayuna High School in Niskayuna, NY, Olsen averaged a triple-double in points, rebounds, and blocks in both her junior and senior years.
The Friars also added guard depth with freshmen Nariah Scott ’25 and Kylee Sheppard ’25, as well as with the acquisition of Cranston native Janai Crooms ’23, who transferred to PC from Michigan State University. Crooms attended St. Andrew’s High School and was the first female basketball athlete to have her jersey retired at the school. She has plenty of experience playing college hoops as she began her collegiate career with Ohio State University for her first two years before transferring to the Spartans. The floor general will be a valuable player in Coach Crowley’s arsenal, especially given Williams’ departure.
While the PC Women’s Basketball team looks ready to turn heads this season, they find themselves amid a competitive conference that has one of the greatest programs in any collegiate sport of our lifetimes: the University of Connecticut. The Huskies enter the season ranked second in the country, only behind the University of South Carolina. UConn has won 11 national championships, all coming since 1995, and rarely ever lose their conference tournaments. The Friars will square off with the Huskies at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday, Jan. 30, which is certainly a game to mark on your calendar.
UConn is not the only notable team in the Big East. DePaul University also poses a threat and in recent years has consistently hovered around the AP Top 25. The Blue Demons return all five starters and will be expected to be a tournament-caliber team this season. Seton Hall University, which finished as runner-up in the conference last year, is also expected to be one of the more competitive teams that the Friars will face.
The Big East Preseason Poll ranked the Friars as eighth out of 11 teams, but PC Women’s Basketball will let their play do the talking and prove that their roster is much better than others in the conference perceive it to be. There would be no better way to celebrate 50 years of female students at Providence College than to have a fantastic year out of this team. The Friars play an exhibition matchup at Alumni Hall vs. Bentley University on Nov. 4, and then they begin their regular season play again at home on Tuesday, Nov. 9 against Yale University.