Victories over Amherst, Springfield highlight women’s hoops’ winning streak

Women’s basketball (8-4) has been on a roll these past weeks after posting a victory over archrival Amherst, an upset of highly ranked Springfield and a triumph in the Williams Winter Classic. In the game at Amherst on Saturday night, Williams dominated the contest 68-46. The Ephs controlled the game both in the paint and from the perimeter.

Inside, power forward Abi Jackson ’03 employed both power and finesse to notch 15 points on the strength of a sizzling 70 percent shooting percentage. She also played a big role in the Ephs’ dominance on the boards, registering a double-double with 10 rebounds.

On the perimeter, shooting guard Melissa Skeffington ’03 attempted only three-pointers, connecting on four of six from behind the arc.

The sharp shooting of Skeffington, who finished with 13 points, contrasted greatly with the poor marksmanship of the Amherst guards, who shot a dismal seven for 23 in the game.

At point guard for Williams, the Kate Stumpo ’03-Kerri McMahon ’05 tandem turned in another solid performance, combining for 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. They both showed poise in handling the pressure of playing in such a hostile environment in such a pressure-filled game.

Completing the scoring for the Ephs, Bridget McDonough ’04 also managed double figures, finishing with a solid 14 points, including two long-range bombs, in only 17 minutes of play. McDonough finished six of 12 from the floor.

The victory over their archrivals was certainly the high point of the week, but the confidence that the Ephwomen carried into that contest began earlier in Winter Study.

At the beginning of the month, the Ephs triumphed in the Williams Winter Classic, and in the match before the Amherst game, the ladies knocked off a Springfield team that had previously been undefeated in the region.

The 64-57 upset against Springfield boosted the Ephwomen’s confidence, as it showed the team that they could play with and defeat even the elite teams in the region.

“The girls came out with focus and a competitive edge tonight that I have never seen before,” commented head coach Pat Manning. “It’s time for this team to do this. They are finally playing with a purpose, and what’s more, they are playing each game knowing they can win.”

In the game, Amy Dieckmann ’05 notched the first double-double of her career with a game-high 11 points and 12 rebounds in only 20 minutes of action. Jackson continued her dominant inside play, adding 10 points and six boards. More importantly, the passion that Jackson brought to the game acted as a spark plug for the rest of the team, as her teammates visibly responded to her intensity.

The entire squad played well in the contest. Several players, including Dieckmann, came off the bench to contribute solid minutes and points for the Ephs. The team played intelligent and unselfish basketball, as 15 of the Ephs’ 20 field goals came off assists. “It was a fun game to coach in that we were able to go to our bench and get better results,” said Manning.

The Ephs’ balance on the offensive end was driven by their defensive poise and strong rebounding. Only one member of the Pride, Becky Kanupka, with 10 points, scored in double digits. As a team, Springfield shot a dismal 26 percent from the field, including 0-14 from three point land.

Individually, Stumpo and McMahon played stifling defense on the Springfield guards. They forced turnovers, and the duo prevented Springfield from penetrating or getting in a good position to run the offense.

McMahon had six assists and eight rebounds to go along with her strong defense.The Ephs also dominated on the boards, pulling down 42 rebounds to Springfield’s 27.

The strong inside play and defense that led Williams to the victory over Amherst and the upset over Springfield began at the beginning of the month in the Williams Winter Classic. Jackson was the tournament’s most valuable player, and Stumpo made the all-Tournament team.

In the finals of the tournament, the Ephs, in a prelude to their later victories, employed a balanced, unselfish offense driven by the point-guard play, a smothering defense, and dominating rebounding to defeat an energetic Misericordia team.

Jackson had 15 points and nine rebounds in the final match, and she also displayed her characteristic energy as she took three charges. Stumpo had 18 points on crisp shooting. McMahon also had 12 points, and Skeffington had ten to round out the Ephs in double figures. Dieckmann snagged ten rebounds as she and Jackson controlled the glass throughout the entire match.

The Ephs formula for success has carried them far the past weeks, and they hope to continue their winning streak this evening at home against Hamilton College at 7:30 p.m.

This Friday, the Ephwomen again play at home as they attempt to complete the sweep of Amherst at 6:00 pm. Both games are in Chandler Gymnasium, and they will also be broadcast on WCFM.