The Williams women’s basketball team began its 1999-2000 campaign the same way that it spent most of last season: winning games. Though many of the faces are different this year, the team’s pair of victories in its own Williams Tip Off Tournament showed why this season has the potential to equal last year’s in success.
Playing with only one starter back from last year, as three had graduated and Rebecca Brooks ’00 was playing for the women’s soccer team in the NCAA Final Four, the Ephwomen played solidly in wins over Johnson & Wales and Springfield to capture the tournament championship. Point guard Liz Tilley ’01, the only starter back from a year ago, took home tournament MVP honors after scoring a game-high 25 points in the championship contest.
The Ephs faced a talented Springfield side in Sunday’s final game, and the Pride was able to keep the game close for much of the first half. Though both teams only shot about 30 percent in the half, the Ephs outrebounded Springfield and were able to take advantage of second-chance opportunities. Williams eventually took a 27-22 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Ephwomen came out shooting much better, ran the court well and did a tremendous job shutting down the Pride’s outside threats. The combination of these factors coupled with tough play on the low post gave Williams a healthy, double-digit lead midway through the period. Head Coach Pat Manning went deep into her bench, using a rotation of about 10 players, five of whom were First-years. Though Springfield tried to shoot its way back into the game in the closing minutes, Tilley came through on the foul line to hit six of six attempts in the final three minutes to ice the game and ensure a 65-61 Williams win.
“We really played as a team and remained calm and confident throughout the whole game against Springfield,” Stephens said.
Besides scoring 25 points, Tilley added eight rebounds and four steals. Joining Tilley on the all-tournament team was forward Nicole Stephens ’02, who had 12 points and seven rebounds . Kate Sumpo ’03 had solid court presence in only her second career start and finished with 13 points. Other contributors under the hoop were Katie Ford ’01, who often guarded Springfield’s best offensive player and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds, and Abi Jackson ’03, who brought energy to the floor, grabbing loose balls and playing great defense under the hoop.
In Saturday night’s 74-34 drubbing of Johnson & Wales, every Williams player that entered the game scored at some point in the contest. The Ephwomen jumped out to a large lead 10 minutes into the period behind 11 quick points by Stephens. Williams was on top 41-22 at the break.
The Eph defense was stellar in the second half, allowing only 12 points and forcing 17 turnovers, while the fast break offense tallied transition baskets.
Stephens finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Stumpo added eight points for Williams, while Tilley, Jackson, Laura Crum ’02 and Mandy Routh-Corker ’03 each had seven.
If the weekend games are any indication of the team’s potential for this season, the Ephs’ ability to run the floor and play as a team should lead to much success. Add Brooks and Goldman back to the lineup, and the Ephs should again challenge for a berth in the NCAA tournament.
“This year we have a really good team chemistry and everyone has accepted their roles,” Stephens said.