BY MICHAEL KELLY
POTSDAM — A quirky early-season schedule left the Clarkson University women’s basketball team to play its first nine games this season away from its own gymnasium.
When the Golden Knights finally made it home for a pair of games Jan. 8-9, junior Alyssia Marsal and sophomore Madison Shea — both Shenendehowa graduates from Clifton Park — made sure the home team came out on top each time.
Clarkson picked up 73-46 and 67-61 wins against Bard College and Vassar College, respectively, with Shea registering 29 points and nine steals between the two games and Marsal going for 18 points and 13 rebounds.
“It was just nice to finally get to play in our home gym,” Shea said.
The duo from Clifton Park has helped Clarkson to a 7-4 start to its season, an 11-game stretch which has provided the Golden Knights with the chance to bond and find themselves.
“We’ve come together a lot,” Marsal said. “The losses [we’ve had] have really shaped us and shown us what we need to work on.”
The two players — who are both starters — have carved out clear roles for themselves this season.
In 11 games, Marsal is averaging 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, while Shea is averaging 8.4 points and 2.9 steals per game.
Shea has produced six games with double-digit scoring. After a freshman campaign in which she tried to facilitate her teammates’ offense, Shea said she feels more comfortable looking for her own offense.
“This year, I’m finding where I can take my shots I know I can make,” she said. “Last year, I really wasn’t looking to shoot the ball.”
Both young women are growing off the court, too. The 20-year-old Marsal is an innovation and entrepreneurship major, while 19-year-old Shea is an engineering and management major.
“I knew I’d wanted to do business, something with marketing,” Marsal said. “I’d love to do something with sports marketing.”
Marsal picked her major at the end of her sophomore year, while Shea also picked her area of study after a little while trying out different courses.
“I found [my major] out here,” Shea said. “When I was looking [at colleges], I was focused on basketball, but I knew I’d be interested in math, sciences.”
Clarkson’s wins against Bard and Vassar started off a five-game home stretch for the team. After using its opening stretch of road games to get itself battle-tested, Clarkson has the ability to make some noise this season in the Liberty League, Marsal said.
“On the road or at home, we just try to do what we do every game,” she said. “We get each other pumped up, motivated, and know what we need to accomplish in each game.”