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In so many ways, BRIANNE TRAUB PharmD’17, JESSICA SYLVESTER PharmD’17, and KAITLYN SCHMID Psy’15 saved their best for last.
Sylvester’s was in the final seconds, when a four-point play saved their senior season.
Schmid’s was the whole season, where she steadily put together a year for the record books.
Traub’s was the culmination of four years that saw her score more points than any other woman to wear the uniform.
All three had impressive careers as members of the University of the Sciences women’s basketball team, where they helped the team to a 72-40 record in their four years of eligibility. That’s in addition to helping the team transition to a new coach, with JACKIE HARTZELL taking over before their junior years—and there were no seniors on that 2013–14 squad.
“They were great; they made me feel comfortable from day one. There was a lot that I needed to learn, and they were just extremely helpful,” Hartzell recalled. “They’re very coachable, and they work really hard. They put a lot of time in in the offseason, even during the year, when we’re not practicing.
“They just were really, really good girls to coach.”
Sylvester, a 5-foot-7 guard from Trevose, Pennsylvania, hit 247 three-point shots during her USciences career, which set the new career standard for Devils women’s basketball. Her biggest one was undeniably the four-point play in the final 10 seconds that lifted USciences to a 66-65 win over University of Tampa, the No. 5 team in the country.
After a 2-4 start to the season, they went on to win the next 15 games.
“We had our winning streak, and that just caused everything,” Traub said. “It was an amazing feeling, just watching that shot go in.”
It’s a shot that Sylvester has watched over and over again, one she keeps on her phone, ready to pull up at a moment’s notice.
“We ran that last play for me, it was an inbounds play, and we ran it wrong—completely wrong,” Sylvester said. “I actually ended up falling down, and my girl who was playing me went and doubled Brianne, and that’s how I got open.”
That’s the benefit of having a 2,000-point scorer on the team.
Traub, a 5-foot-8 wing from Wayne, New Jersey, started her college career with a double-double: 20 points and 11 rebounds against St. Thomas Aquinas back on November 11, 2012. Over the next three-and-a-half years she would go on to accumulate 2,069 points and 848 rebounds; no woman has scored as many points at USciences, and only four have pulled down more rebounds.
“When I first came in, it wasn’t a goal of mine,” she said of the scoring record. “But as I saw my progression throughout the years, it was something that I knew I could reach, and I’m really happy with the fact that I was able to do it; it’s a great accomplishment.”
Of course, neither Sylvester nor Traub would have scored the 3,000-plus points they scored if it wasn’t for the pint-sized point guard dishing them the ball. Despite standing just 5-foot-2, Schmid compiled an incredible senior season, averaging more assists (4.8 assist per game) than points (4.6 points per game) while turning it over just 32 times in 28 games.
The Howell, New Jersey, native’s assist-to-turnover ratio wasn’t just sparkling—it was tops in the nation. For all NCAA divisions: D-I, D-II, and D-III. And, dating back to the first time the stat was kept in 2007–08, it was the best mark for all Division II women’s players.
"Before the season started, I always put three goals down for myself. The first one was to just take care of the ball—no matter what, take care of the ball," she said. “I think it was the beginning of January, [assistant athletic director] BOBBY HELLER pointed out that I was No. 15, and my friend joked to me, was like, ‘You have to get No. one,’ and I was like, ‘Haha, I’ll try.’
“And then it happened.”
Schmid, who graduated with her degree in psychology, has already accepted a graduate assistant position at D-I University of Southern Mississippi. Sylvester and Traub both have two years remaining until they get their doctorate in pharmacy degrees. Sylvester is hoping to be a graduate assistant at USciences, where she can coach her sister MARISSA, an incoming freshman on the team.
Now those last great moments are only memories, as the three women who spent nearly 10,000 minutes on the USciences court move on to the rest of their lives, whether that’s staying involved with basketball or otherwise.
Sylvester summed up their thoughts the best.
“If I could go back and do it all over again,” she said, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Josh Verlin is the owner and editor of CityofBasketballLove.com, which was founded in June 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @jmverlin.