Women’s basketball suffers double losses

Women’s basketball (8-16, 3-6 in the NESCAC) played strongly this past weekend but nevertheless added two more losses to its record, falling first to Amherst (23-1, 8-1) then Trinity (16-7, 4-5) the following day. Luckily, the women’s conference record was still good enough to guarantee them a spot in the conference tournament, which starts next weekend.

On Saturday, the squad honored its three seniors and co-captains: Mika Peterman ’09, Patricia Ludwig ’09 and Lindsay Millert ’09. Peterman and Ludwig have played for the Ephs since their freshman year; Millert joined the team during the 2007-2008 season after competing for two years on the track and field team.

After the ceremony Williams came out with a strong start against Trinity and led for nearly 30 minutes of the game. But while the Ephs set the tempo for most of the match, the Bantams relentlessly held on, and with only 10 minutes left to play, they tied it up 57-57.

With 40 seconds left, the Ephs found themselves trailing by three, in need of a defensive stop. In one of the final plays of the game, the Ephs managed to deny the Bantams a good look at the basket, forcing a Trinity player to take a quick shot as the shot clock expired. Unfortunately, the Ephs assumed that a shot clock violation had taken place and ceased playing once the buzzer sounded. The Bantams pocketed a quick rebound and bucket, extending their lead to 75-70 over the Ephs.

“We played the buzzer instead of playing the whistle, and you can’t do that,” Head Coach Pat Manning said. “The Trinity players did, too. Nine people on the court froze, and the one who didn’t was the one Trinity player who had the lay-up.”

Comparing stats, it’s astounding that the Bantams pulled out a win. While shot percentages were relatively the same for both teams, Williams pulled in more boards and had more steals and assists than Trinity.

Manning explained that it was poor free throw shooting and slow transitioning that sunk the Ephs in the second half. From the line, the squad went 0-7 in the final twenty minutes of play. The squad was also out-hustled by the quick Trinity offensive.

Jess Harris ’11 led the squad with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Taylor Shea ’11 also earned a double-double, with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Peterman and Jill Greenberg ’12 chipped in with 10 points and 15 points, respectively.

Against nationally ranked Amherst on Friday, the girls also came out strong and led until the final minutes to play. Tying it up with only 3:31 left, the Jeffs put in three lay-ups on consecutive plays, giving them their first lead of the night and extending it to 56-60. In the final minute of play, the team tried to foul to regain the lead, but following a three-pointer from Jill Greenberg ’12 that closed the gap to only three points, the Jeffs entered the double bonus and hit key free throws for the win.

“Amherst was the best we’ve played since the Wesleyan win, and the best defense we’ve played all season,” Manning said. “But rebounding really hurt us. Down the stretch, we gave up some big offensive boards and gave Amherst layups.”

First-year Greenberg showed what she was made of against the Jeffs, leading the squad with 21 points. “Jill’s performance overall this weekend was solid,” Manning said. “She set the tone at Amherst, really pushed the pace, and did a great job moving the ball.”

This unsuccessful weekend means that the women enter NESCAC tournament play ranked eighth and will have to face top seed Bowdoin (20-4, 8-1) in the first round of tournament play. Not only will the squad face arguably the most powerful team in the conference, but they’ll have to do it in Maine, in front of a rowdy and unforgiving Bowdoin crowd.

The Ephs have not won at Bowdoin since 1999, but Manning and the squad are positive. “We’re total underdogs, but we know that if we play the way we did on Friday (against Amherst) for 40 minutes, we can win,” she said. “But with Bowdoin, you cannot have a defensive lapse, or they’ll make you pay.”

This opening NESCAC game will take place on Saturday.