Sports & Outdoors

Dominant Women’s Basketball Season Carries Loggers to NCAA Tournament

Superstar Paige Gerhart('24), who lead the team in scoring, rebounds and assists, helped carry the Loggers to victory in the first round of the NCAA Division-III tournament, against #13 Carroll University. Photo Credit: Doug Sasse @d3Photography
The team celebrates their NWC Championship victory over Pacific University, their second
conference championship in as many years.
Photo credit: JT Allen Media

By Kate Patterson

The Logger women’s basketball team not only became conference champions for the second year in a row, but made it to the second round of NCAA Division-III tournament in their remarkable 2023-24 season. This is the first time Loggers made it to the
tournament since 2015. On March 1, the team played in the first round of the tournament, achieving a thrilling 74-65 victory over Carroll University. Their tournament ended a day later with a loss to University of Wisconsin-Stout, but the loss in no way diminished their impressive performance. The Trail congratulates the team on their season record of 20-9, and their tournament success. We caught up with Head Coach Casey Kushiyama to get his insights.
Q: You’ve coached women’s basketball at Puget Sound for 7 years now. How have you seen the team develop and change to get to its current point?
A: Our program has changed tremendously over the last 7 years. The first 3 years we were running a completely different system/style to best utilize the personnel that we had at the time. It also took those 3 years to recruit players that would fit into our current system. Covid was the halfway point and it served as a great reset for our program’s culture and installing our new/ current system. Now, we have a roster full of players that were specifically recruited to fit our system and culture. Behind the scenes, our culture system has been completely revamped and it has trans-formed our program into what it is now.

Q: Logger women’s basketball ended the season with a record of 20-9. What do you think helped the team be able to reach the high level of success they did?
A: Short answer: our culture and mindset. Credit to the players for having the ability to compete at maximum effort at practice each day against each other. And then having the maturity to acknowledge and have gratitude towards that same teammate for the positive things they did and for making them better. WOW! Our team’s growth mindset throughout the year was just incredible. We had to incorporate
a lot of new players and players into new roles this season. Being able to use the entire season to explore and experiment, allowed us to figure out how to be at our best at the end of the season. And then our mindset in the postseason switched to fearless and free.
Q: What do you want the rest of campus to know about this amazing season and team?
A: First of all, this team is simply a group of amazing people! Individually, there’s actually a
lot of differences between them. They’re from different states, have different backgrounds and
upbringings, different interests and hobbies. Yet collectively, it just works. They genuinely care about one another and that’s what makes this team special.
And we’re not going away! Next season, we’ll have 11 returners and a great incoming class to continue our program’s winning tradition.