A tough loss at Bowdoin (21-4, 8-1 in the NESCAC) ended Williams’ (8-17, 3-6) season last Saturday, as the squad fell to the Polar Bears 85-52.
The Ephs held on for the majority of the first half, but eventually proved unable to stay with the fast-scoring tempo of the Polar Bears. A late 13-2 run before halftime gave Bowdoin a 17-point advantage. Williams never came close to closing the lead.
“We started off strong in the first 15 minutes and played a really solid game,” Head Coach Pat Manning said, “but Bowdoin is a very good team, and when they come at you in a hurry, they have a lot of weapons.”
The Polar Bears came out firing, shooting 42.4 percent from the floor for the game. The Ephs, in comparison, shot 30.5 percent and were only 25.9 percent from the field in the second half. Comparing box scores, Bowdoin also dominated the boards throughout the game, out-rebounding Williams 58-34. Ã‚Â
“They really killed us on the boards,” Manning said. “Early in the game, when we were with them, we were matching them on the boards.”
In the final game of her Williams career, Mika Peterman ’09 had nine points. Jill Greenberg ’12 and Chessie Jackson ’11 each chipped in 13 points for the Ephs. Jess Harris ’11 led the team on the boards, pulling in nine rebounds.
Manning highlighted Greenberg’s performance in the loss and throughout this season. “Jill had a great freshman year,” she said. “She’s really come through for us. [Bowdoin] put very strong defense on her every time. Their full-court pressure didn’t hurt us at all, and a lot of that was Jill. She helped get us set up into our offense.”
The loss marks the 14th consecutive Bowdoin win over Williams since 2001. Ã‚Â
It was a difficult finish to a challenging season. Back in November, the relatively young squad suffered from growing pains as players less experienced with college level play adjusted to the tempo and to performing in new rotations.
As the season progressed and the team slowly began to mesh, the issue became one of consistency. Often, the Ephs would put on brief displays of excellent play but rarely kept them going for the entire game.
The squad began to prove its potential starting with strong play in late December. The team took second place in the Santa Barbara tourney over winter break and then went on to dominate the Williams Winter Classic at the beginning of January. Yet, despite this short spurt of success, the Ephs suffered yet another string of losses through the month.
It would have been easy to write off the Ephs as potential contenders, until their match against Wesleyan on Jan. 23. Weeks earlier, the Cardinals had handed the Ephs one of their most severe losses of the season, defeating them 86-45. But the second time around, Williams came to play and surprised Wesleyan and NESCAC hoops fans by taking the win, 79-68.
The momentum from the Wesleyan victory carried the team briefly, as the squad defeated the next two NESCAC teams on its schedule, improving its conference record to 3-2. Sadly, the run was short-lived and yet another string of inconsistent play followed. Ã‚Â
But in these final losses of the season, defeat seemed even tougher; the Ephs were no longer the inexperienced underdogs who trailed the entire game and were defeated by significant figures. Instead, facing Colby, Amherst and Trinity during the final weeks of its season, the team often set the pace and maintained a lead for the majority of the game, only to fail to hold it together in the final minutes of play.
“I don’t think any of us wanted the season to end, because we all know we are capable of more,” Manning said. “It makes the returning players hungrier for next season. And even though it doesn’t look like it record-wise, we did take some positive steps this season. Next year we’ll have more returning players with a lot of experience.”