The Williams women’s basketball team ended their season with a bang, winning their first-ever ECAC Championship and setting a new school record with 23 wins in a season. Tenacious defense and a solid offense provided the power the Ephs needed.
On Wednesday night the number one-seeded Ephs faced the number eight seed Westfield State in the ECAC Championship tournament. The game remained close through the first half, but the Ephs held on for a seven point lead at half-time.
However, with only four minutes remaining in the game, Westfield drew perilously close and pulled within four points. By making their free throws and controlling the pace, Williams was able to maintain the lead and win, 69-62.
Kathleen Higgins ’99 notched a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Alana Teutonico ’98 led all scorers with 17 points, and fellow senior Caroline Nesbit added eight. Controlling the key, Erin Duffy ’99 scored 12 points and secured eight rebounds. Westfield players Amanda Braden and Caitlin Foley scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.
On Saturday, Williams walked away with its first overtime victory of the season, beating Rhode Island College 99-89. During the first half the two teams fought back and forth for the lead, setting up a one point struggle for much of the second half. Strong rebounding helped Williams to hold a five point lead with 30 seconds left. However, RIC was able to force an overtime with a buzzer beating three.
Williams dominated the OT holding RIC to only six points in the extra period. Eph coach Pat Manning said, “It was fun to totally dominate in overtime.” Teutonico led all scorers with 24 points, and Rebecca Brooks ’00 closely followed her with 23 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. Higgins contributed 19 and Laura Brenneman ’99, who sat out part of the game with an injury, returned to score 14 points. Nesbit also dropped eight and Robin Goldman ’01 added seven.
In the ECAC Championship final on Sunday, the Ephs rolled over the Colby Mules to take a 77-56 victory and an ECAC trophy. Williams, leading 33-27 at half-time, was able to open up a huge 19-point lead in the second half. However, a run by Colby brought the lead down to 10. A time-out by Manning gave the Ephs the inspiration they needed and they went on a 13-point run to seal the game.
The Williams scorecard was dominated by 18 points from Higgins, 11 from Brenneman, nine from Brooks and seven from Duffy. Seniors and Co-captains Alana Teutonico and Caroline Nesbit ended their season and Williams careers with a loud ovation from the fans and 13 and 6 points, respectively. Suzanne Heon scored 13 points for Colby.
Manning described this weekend as the “best effort of the season” and emphasized the determination of her team. “No one was going to take it [the championship] from them, and it was such a thrill for the seniors to win their final game like this.”
Aside from winning team honors, there were several individual honors. Alana Teutonico was named the ECAC tournament MVP, scoring a total of 54 points in her final three games, and grabbing nine rebounds in the win over RIC. “She really set the tone for everyone,” Manning said of Teutonico’s performance.
Kathleen Higgins ‘99 was named to the All-NESCAC first team, as NESCAC Player of the Year, and became Williams’ first regional All-American. Higgins has also been nominated to be considered for one of the 10 National All-American positions. Rebecca Brooks ‘00 was named to the All-NESCAC second team.