Ephs edge Panthers 62-54 at Chandler

Women’s basketball defeated the Middlebury Panthers 62-54 in front of 200 fans at Chandler Gymnasium where the temperature outside the game was fluctuating around zero.

Throughout much of the first half, the Ephwomens’ shooting was similar to the weather in that both were cold. At one point, Williams found themselves down by eight points.

Botched lay-ups and bricked open shots resulted in the Ephwomen missing their first seven opportunities to score.

However, Williams was able to close out the first half with an impressive 25-11 run. Highlighting the run for the Ephwomen were Melissa Skefington ’03 and Kate Stumpo ’03, who each dropped a pair of treys.

Skefington and Stumpo went on to lead the Ephs in points with 17 and 15, respectively.

Stumpo played a solid all-around game except from the free-throw line where she shot an irregular 33 percent on 3-of-9 shooting. Amy Geant ’03 was a monster on the boards as she recorded a game-high 13 rebounds. Kerri McMahon ’05 was all over the Panther ball-handlers and led both teams with four steals.

The Ephwomen were able to penetrate the Middlebury zone and effectively ruined the Panthers’ game-plan. Hard cuts to the basket and soft banks off the glass enabled the Ephwomen to pour on the points.

“It took a while for us to find our rhythm,” Colleen Hession ’06 said. “But once we were able to get things going, openings in their defense emerged, our shots started falling and before too long, we were rolling.”

As successful as the Ephwomen were at foiling Middlebury’s defense, Williams was even more effective at employing their own defensive schema. The Ephwomen forced Middlebury to attempt difficult shots from the outside and the Williams post-players rebounded their misses.

One Panther the Ephs could not contain was sophomore Alexis Hollinger who recorded 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Hollinger, the 6-foot forward from Kearsarge, N.H., also picked up eight rebounds, five on the offensive end, in her 22 minutes of playing time.

Two other Panthers reached double-digits in their effort against the Ephwomen. Middlebury’s Elyse Carlson and Kristin Hanley scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, and each also collected six rebounds without turning the ball over once. Hanley, who usually leads the Panthers in scoring, shot poorly on the afternoon and failed to hit a single 3-pointer in four attempts.

The win was the sixth win in a row for Head Coach Pat Manning. The key to this team’s success is defense, so it should come as no surprise that over the past six games the Ephwomen have succeeded in utilizing their defense to their advantage.

Earlier this week, Stumpo became just the seventh Ephwoman in Williams’ history to eclipse 1,000 career points. Stumpo achieved this rare feat in the Ephwomen 70-46 victory over Smith College in Northampton on Thursday.

“It has been such a pleasure to coach Kate,” said Manning. “She is such a team player and is so unselfish with the ball. It has truly been a joy to coach her.”

Stumpo racked up her 1,000th point on a tough cut to the hoop. Many fans and players saw it fitting for Stumpo’s milestone point to come on a hard earned opportunity, since a majority of Stumpo’s points have been a result of tenacious play and difficult moves to the basket.

“Kate really earns all her points – whether it be drives, free throws, three pointers,” Manning said. “It is never easy for Kate.”

Stumpo finished with nine points, seven assists and a steal to help lead the Ephwomen to victory. Skeffington, Sarah Dickens ’03, Abi Jackson ’03 and Hession all scored in the double-digits.

This was the best game of the season for Jackson, who seems to be slowly recovering from what looked at times to have been a career-ending knee injury. Hession continues to be an impact player in her rookie year.

Hession only went 1-of-2 from the field, but was fouled often and did her damage from the charity stripe as she hit all eight of her attempted free-throws. Hession also cleaned up six boards, which includes four on the offensive end.

“I’m just happy to be making an impact in my first year,” Hession said. “We have some great upperclassman leadership on this team that’s going to be hard to replace in the next few years.”

Perhaps the most interesting disparity between Smith and Williams come in trips to the free-throw line. Williams attempted 27 free-throws and missed only four times to shoot 85.2-percent whereas Smith only cashed in on one of three attempts.

The Ephwomen also shot more accurately than Smith as they went 21-55 (38.2%) from the field as compared to Smith’s weak 20-63 (31.7%). However, Smith was able to keep pace with Williams from behind the three-point arc as both teams shot an identical 5-for-15 (33%).

Leading Smith was the versatile Dasen Woitkowski, a junior from Pittsfield who posted impressive stats of 17 points, nine rebounds and two steals. No other player on Smith managed to score more than eight points.