After starting the season undefeated, women’s basketball endured a tough week, suffering three straight losses to even its record at 3-3.
This past Saturday, the Ephwomen fell to rival Wesleyan (4-1) 52-41 at home in a non-conference contest. The Ephs’ defense performed well enough to win, holding the potent Cardinals offense to 38 percent shooting and not allowing any Wesleyan player to score in double figures.
However, Williams had trouble scoring all night, knocking down only 21 percent of its shots from the field, in addition to the abysmal 15 percent the team shot from behind the three-point arc.
In the first half, the Ephs, led by guard Melissa Skeffington ’03, played Wesleyan close, and they trailed only 18-19 with nearly nine minutes remaining in the period.
However, the Ephwomen’s shooting then went cold, opening up fast-break opportunities for the Cardinals, who capitalized on their opportunities. Wesleyan found the bottom of the net often on high percentage lay-ups and jump-shots.
Nonetheless, the Ephs still managed to hang tough for most of the half, and they trailed Wesleyan by only three points with four minutes remaining in the period. However, Wesleyan went on a 6-0 run to close out the half, and consequently, the Cardinals went into halftime with a 29-20 lead, an advantage they would only build upon in the second half.
In the second half, the Ephs continued to struggle offensively. Wesleyan came out of the gate hot, with shooting guard Amy Posocco hitting two three-pointers to increase the Cardinals? lead to 14.
Williams tried to overcome the deficit by applying a full-court press and a more aggressive half-court defense. Wesleyan adapted to the heightened defensive pressure well, and the Cardinals finished with only 18 turnovers to the Ephs? 20. The Ephs prevented Wesleyan from significantly increasing their lead, but they only pulled as close as nine, and they ultimately lost the game 41-52.
For Williams, Kerri McMahon ?05 created several scoring opportunities from the point-guard position, in addition to grabbing nine rebounds, six of which were off the offensive glass. Skeffington and co-captain Kate Stumpo ?03 both made nice individual plays on offense, finishing with 16 and 12 points respectively, but the team lacked a rhythm as an unit, as shown by Williams? six assists to Wesleyan?s 12.
Stumpo also added six rebounds to go with her 12 points, and she shot the best of all the starters at 33 percent. Abi Jackson ?03 grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench, and she provided hustle and aggressiveness to the Ephs? inside game. Amy Dieckmann ?05 led the team on the boards with 11 rebounds, and she also netted four points, all of which came from the free-throw line.
Free-throw shooting was the high point of what was otherwise a terrible shooting night for the Ephs. Williams connected on 71 percent of its attempts from the charity stripe, led by Skeffington?s perfect eight for eight.
Williams? offensive woes began Sunday, Nov. 25, when it suffered its first loss of the season at home to a thus far unbeaten Middlebury (4-0) squad 59-45.
Williams played Middlebury close the entire game, and Middlebury led by but a single point with 3:43 to play after Stumpo had knocked down a three-pointer. However, the Ephs had to foul Middlebury to get the ball back, and the Panthers shot a perfect 10 for 10 on their free throws down the stretch.
Williams? defense played well enough to win, holding Middlebury to 31 percent shooting, but the Ephs registered an even poorer 28 percent. Further, Middlebury had 18 points from the free-throw line on 81 percent shooting, while the Ephs connected on only six of their 13 free-throw attempts.
Individually for Williams, Stumpo scored 13 points and was the lone player in double figures. Amy Geant ?03 grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.
?I was disappointed that we did not come to play today,? said head coach Pat Manning about the team?s first loss. ?Our defense was OK in the first half and better in the second half, but we did not deserve to win today because Middlebury outplayed us.?
To complete the team?s woes, this past Thursday, the Ephwomen suffered a heart breaking double overtime loss at Skidmore, 72-69.
Williams never led in the game, but it dominated play in the second half 26-16 to force overtime play. The Ephs led by three in the final minute of the first extra period, but Skidmore guard Amy Gilchrist nailed a three-pointer with 18.9 seconds to play to tie the game at 62.
In the second overtime, Williams led by a point in the final minute, but Michal Pinkham scored to give Skidmore the lead 70-69 with 36 seconds remaining. Williams could not convert on offense, and Skidmore hit their free-throws for a final score of 72-69.
For the game, Williams could not find its shooting touch, connecting on only 30 percent of its attempts from the field.
Individually, Skeffington netted 20 points, and perhaps more importantly, connected on over 44 percent of her shots. Several other players scored in double figures for the Ephs, including McMahon with 14, Stumpo with 13 and Bridget McDonough ?04 with 10.
Looking forward, the Ephwomen will look to get back on the winning track tonight in another exciting contest at home against Keene State at 7:30 p.m.