Athletes weigh in on close game situations

Athletes weigh in on close game situations

By Elohino Theodore

Blog illuminates best player characteristics for athletic clutch plays.

Many athletes deal with close game situations differently, and when it comes down to the final minutes in a game, who will be the hero?

According to, in order for athletes to be clutch, players have to offer multiple characteristics. For example, in order to do well when games are on the line, athletes need to make their teammates better. Clutch athletes must be unselfish. They must be willing to give up the ball for the team’s benefit.

Dr. Chris Stankovich states that athletes must also strive to be the best in order to be successful in close games. This means that athletes who perform well in clutch situations also want to improve their skills.

Stankovich mentions in his article that successful clutch athletes only focus on the next play. They do not complain if the last play did not go their way, they simply move on in order to try to find a way to win.

So far this season, the EWU women’s basketball team are 1-3 in games decided by five points or less. Their first close game of the season on Nov. 8 was against the University of Portland where they lost by three points, 68-65. They also lost against Southern Methodist University by five points, 75-70 on Nov. 16.

They won a close game in December, where they beat University of Idaho by one point, 85-84. On Jan. 11, the Eagles played Montana State University in a close game where they lost by four points, 78-74.

Eastern shoots below 50 percent they lose close games compared to when they shot 52.4 percent in the close game they won against University of Idaho. EWU shot 43.4 percent in their loss to Portland, they shot 44.4 percent in the Southern Methodist University loss. Followed by only shooting 34.8 percent in the loss against Montana State.

As the season continues, during practice, the team will go over plays for close game situations. “We’ll have minute games where we’re down by two or up two, which I think is really good to have experience with in practice,” senior guard Aubrey Ashenfelter said.

These close game situations that the Eagles work on in practice seemed to pay off for Ashenfelter. On Dec. 14 she hit a clutch shot to propel the Eagles to a one point win against University of Idaho. Ashenfelter also goes on to explain the mindset she is in during games.

“I’m more nervous if I’m on the bench, than if I’m playing. I like to be in the game, I like to be involved, but I don’t get nervous at all, I’m kind of in a basketball zone,” Ashenfelter said.

Stankovich explains in his article that in order to win close games, athletes must play “in the zone.” This means that athletes focus on their task at hand with confidence and they block out any distractions.

For all athletes, most games that stay in their memories are often ones that were close with a lot on the line. Junior forward Melissa Williams recalled a game she played during her freshman year against Portland State.

Williams was in a situation where she was fouled and had to make two free throws. She ended up making the free throws to win the game for Eastern. “It was a pretty close game and everyone just played really, really well. I just remember being really happy with myself for knocking those shots down in a situation like that,” Williams said.

Williams also explains her state of mind when dealing with crunch time late in games. “Like this last game I got put in with a couple minutes to go and I was nervous going in. But then I just kind of had to take a deep breath and reassure myself that I knew what I was doing,” Williams said.

According to Williams, she would rather compete when a game is on the line. “As an athlete, I would rather play in a close game. They’re definitely more stressful and crazy and hectic, emotions get high. But I think that’s really what we benefit from, that’s really where you grow,” Williams said.

Eastern has their work cut out for them with upcoming games against colleges such as Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and Southern Utah. Judging from the competition in the Big Sky conference, Ashenfelter explains her view on what teams Eastern might compete in close games with.

“I honestly think that every game in the season is going to be a dogfight. Every team is good, nobody is bad, every team we need to be ready for,” Ashenfelter said.