Colby, Bowdoin knock off women’s hoops

Despite strong play in recent weeks, women’s basketball (8-14, 3-4 in the NESCAC) lost two more on the road last weekend against conference rivals Colby (11-9, 3-4) and Bowdoin (18-4, 6-1).

Following a difficult loss against Colby, the team faced perennial powerhouse Bowdoin on Saturday. Fueled by a 20-4 run, the Polar Bears obtained an early lead, and the Ephs went into halftime down 47-24. Bowdoin proved merciless in the second half, beefing up their lead to as many as 34 points before the buzzer ended the onslaught at 91-58.

“Against Bowdoin, we didn’t come out with a sense of urgency,” said co-captain Mika Peterman ’09, who had 12 points in. She explained that the team had been plagued with similar issues throughout the season. “If we show up to play, we will win, but we often do not show up for the whole game,” she said.

Taylor Shea ’11 led the team with 20 points as well as seven boards against the Polar Bears. Since coming back from a severe case of mono at the end of the fall semester, Shea has fully rebounded. “Taylor had a great weekend,” Head Coach Pat Manning said. “She’s playing her best basketball of the season and is back in the flow of things now.”

Facing Colby on Friday night, the Ephs had a slow start, allowing the Mules to gain an early lead. The team was able to close the margin several times throughout the contest, but trailed until the final minutes of the game. Then, with only three and a half minutes left to play, the Ephs were able to overcome an 11-point margin and tie the score at 72-72. However, Colby responded quickly, and an in-the-lane jumper restored its lead to secure its win over Williams.

“We played great the last five minutes of the game,” Manning said. “If we’d played like that from the beginning, I know we would have won. We got off to a slow start and had to play catch-up the whole time. If there were a few more minutes left, we would have come up on top.”

Peterman thought the team’s strong performance at the end of the game indicative of the squad’s improvement since the season’s start. “Managing to come back showed how much we’ve grown,” she said. “Earlier this season, would not have had the mental toughness to do that.”

Peterman’s 10th point of the 14 she scored on Friday marked 1000 points in her Williams career. With the impressive accomplishment, the co-captain became one of only 13 women in the history of Ephs basketball to score 1000 points in her career. “I was happy for Mika (at the Colby game),” Manning said. “She’s had a great career. This year has been difficult for her. During her freshman and sophomore seasons, we were in the NCAA tournament. She had high hopes for this season, and it’s been a tough one. But she’s held it together out there, and she’s stayed positive. I’m really proud of her.”

Scoring 11 points and pulling in 12 rebounds, Jess Harris ’11 put in another strong performance against the Mules. Chessie Jackson ’11 and Shea each chipped in 11 and 13 points, respectively. Guard Jill Greenburg ’12 put in an all-around performance, with 14 points, five rebounds and an impressive seven assists.

Inconsistency seems to define the team’s performance in NESCAC play. Following the first two losses to conference foes Tufts and Bates at the beginning of January, the team rebounded strongly, winning three of its following four games. One of these victories was a huge win against NESCAC rival Wesleyan on Jan. 23. Despite losing to the Cardinals by over forty points several weeks ago, the Ephs earned a 75-68 win the second time around.

Manning considers the win against Wesleyan the team’s strongest performance thus far. “Every aspect of our game was on that night,” she said. “We moved the ball around well, we got a lot of good shots. But it was our defensive effort that made the difference.”

Riding on the momentum of this colossal victory against Wesleyan, the women went on to defeat Conn. College on Jan. 24 as well as Middlebury on Jan. 31.

Although the Ephs certainly displayed their potential against Wesleyan, Conn. College and Middlebury, this past weekend proved that they still lack the consistency that it is so important to success in the upcoming conference tournament. Currently one of four teams tied for fifth in the NESCAC, the squad is confident that it will earn one of the eight tournament slots. However, securing a good seed is extremely important.

“We could be anywhere from fifth through eighth, but we do not want to be at the bottom,” Manning said. The squad will fight to improve its standings in the final two games of the regular season this weekend: the team faces Amherst (21-1, 6-1) away on Friday, then Trinity (15-5, 3-4) at home on Saturday. Saturday’s game against Trinity not only marks the last home game of the season as well as Senior Day, but the women’s team will be selling shirts all week long to support the fight against breast cancer.