At this time a year ago, redshirt freshman Amari Carter was rehabbing her second torn ACL while the Lady Lions watched postseason basketball from their dorms.
Things couldn’t be more different this season.
Carter is healthy. The Lady Lions are in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. And a steady Carter played a crucial role Sunday in the second round, when she was second on the team in scoring with 15 points. Carter and the Lady Lions even cruised to an easy win over Fordham.
The second-year player acknowledged she couldn’t see this all coming.
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“A year ago, I don’t know,” Carter said. “The possibilities were endless. We’re happy to be here.”
Carter has been a consistent force this season and remains the lone Lady Lion to start every game. (Even Teniya Page missed one.) She’s averaging 7.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest — and she was even better on Sunday. She scored 15, grabbed five rebounds and made a game-high four steals.
That effort wasn’t lost on her head coach.
“(Amari’s) able to make plays on both ends of the floor,” coach Coquese Washington said, “and helps our pace of play.”
Sunday hasn’t been an exception to Carter’s postseason performance so far. In the first round, against Ohio, Carter again scored well above her average stat line this season. She finished with 12 points and was again second on the team in scoring; she even recorded one point more than Page.
“I feel like a lot of the times we’re on the same page; it’s fun playing with her,” Page added. “We always make jokes with each other to lighten the mood up.”
Washington sees more and more confidence exuding from Carter, and that’s helped the whole team. When she misses a shot, she rallies back and nails the next one. When she makes a mistake, she sprints down the court and instantly gets over it. There’s no frustration.
This is a much different season for the Lady Lions, compared to last year. And it’s a lot different for a clearly healthy and improved Carter. Washington said there’s an obvious correlation there.
“Having her on the court just makes us a better team,” Washington said. “She’s so fantastic with handling the ball, taking care of the ball, finding teammates, giving people easy plays.
“There’s no question our team is better this year because Amari Carter is playing.”