Women’s hoops tears through NESCAC

Snow storms aside, it’s been a red-hot January and February for women’s basketball (16-6, 5-2 in the NESCAC). The Ephs have blazed through conference play, winning six of their last seven NESCAC contests. Most recently the women downed 14th ranked Tufts, 63-47, on Saturday. Colby, Wesleyan, Trinity, Amherst and Middlebury also fell to Williams during the Ephs’ recent tear.

Defense proved to be the women’s best asset in the Senior Day matchup against Tufts. They held the Jumbos to a 27.5 shooting percentage from the floor, just 22 percent in the first half. Tufts was scoreless in the first 5:40 and netted only five points within the first 10 minutes.

The Ephs, on the other hand, lost no time in getting on the board, opening play on a 7-0 run. Tufts narrowed the margin to 12-9 with just over 6:30 to go in the half, but Williams regained the momentum in the final minutes. Co-captain Mika Peterman ’09 hit a jumper with two seconds left on the clock to send the Ephs into the break leading 22-15.

“We came out with so much intensity from the beginning of the game and never let Tufts get comfortable on the floor,” Peterman said. “Our execution on the offensive end and especially on the defensive end was great.”

Shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor in the first half, Williams improved to 44.8 percent in the second. Chessie Jackson ’11 drained two big three-pointers within the first 10 minutes of the frame to build the Ephs’ lead to 14. Williams expanded on its advantage when a Peterman steal led to a Taylor Shea ’11 lay-up to bring the score to 51-31. The lead proved insurmountable and the nationally ranked 14th Tufts fell by a humbling 16 points.

Shea led all scorers with 16 points and notched 10 rebounds to complete her third straight double-double. Co-captain Dominique de la Torre ’08 came within a point of a double-double herself, finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds. Rounding out the top point-getters, Jackson scored 15 while Peterman added 11.

“We played great defense against Tufts on Saturday,” de la Torre said. “It was our best and most consistent effort this season. In the past we have had a hard time coming out strong in the first half but we finally put together two great defensive halves.”

The night before, Williams met with less success. The visiting Bates Bobcats (13-8, 3-3 in the NESCAC) ended the Ephs’ five-game winning streak with a 72-60 upset victory.

Trailing by three with over 12 minutes left in the half, Williams strung together its most impressive run of the game, outscoring Bates 10-0 over the next five minutes to amass a 22-15 lead.

Williams lagged for the rest of the half, however, allowing Bates to knot the score at 26 with 4:04 left, and then take a 39-33 lead going into the break.

Offensive and defensive woes continued in the second half, as the Bobcats built their lead to as many as 16 halfway into the frame. Although a 10-1 run, highlighted by back-to-back Peterman treys, brought the Ephs to within seven, Williams failed to regain the lead. The short-lived comeback gave way to more inconsistency, allowing Bates to clinch the win in decisive fashion.

“We were a little more stagnant than usual, and didn’t react well when things started to go their way,” co-captain Whitney Livermore ’08 said. “Usually when the other team scores we don’t pay much attention, just get the ball back and stay in the moment. But on Friday we let Bates’ positives affect us a little too negatively.”

Peterman led all scorers with 24 points, while Shea’s 13 points and 10 rebounds gave her a double-double. Niki Savageau ’08 chipped in with six points, four boards and four assists.

Perhaps Williams’ most impressive victory in the last month came against Amherst on Jan. 26. The women rallied from a nine-point first half deficit to topple then-undefeated Amherst, 64-59.

In the second half, the Ephs put their rivals on lockdown, at one point preventing the Jeffs from scoring a field goal for seven and a half minutes. During the final frame, Amherst was only able to shoot 20 percent from the floor.

But it wasn’t until the second half of the period that Williams took control of the game. Down 46-37 with 12:20 remaining, Williams went on 16-3 run from that point out to clinch the win.

“It was a close game until the end, but we stuck together and came up with some big shots towards the end,” de la Torre said. “It was great to come back and get that win after playing so horribly at Amherst two weeks before.”

Shea was instrumental down the stretch, scoring 13 points during the second half. Jessica Harris ’11 scored 15 while Peterman added 13.

The women will finish the regular season on the road as they travel to Conn. College on Friday and then to Wesleyan on Saturday.

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