Women’s hoops wins fifth straight

Rookie Danny Rainer '13 claims a rebound in Saturday's win.
Rookie Danny Rainer ’13 claims a rebound in Saturday’s win.

Women’s basketball (6-1) is off to a promising start to the season with a six-game win streak. After a tough loss to Baldwin-Wallace in their season opener, the women captured some big wins against old rivals along the way. Last weekend, the Ephs defeated Emerson in the opener of the Williams Holiday Classic on Friday before defeating Worcester State in the tournament final on Saturday. Saturday’s victory was especially sweet: with it, the squad won its home tournament, and Head Coach Pat Manning became the winningest coach in Williams basketball history.

Williams controlled Saturday’s game against Worcester State from the start, shooting an impressive 51.5 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes. The women went into halftime with a comfortable 20-point lead. Williams’ consistent defensive effort held the Lancers to only 37 percent shooting for the game, and the Ephs claimed a 78-46 victory.

The victory was Manning’s 325th as head coach of the Ephs, giving her the most wins in Williams basketball history. “I just think about all the players I’ve had over the years, and this is all about them,” she said. “I’ve been lucky to have coached so many players who were so dedicated to the program.”

Manning was especially grateful to earn this win with this year’s team. “I’m so glad to set this milestone with this group,” she said. “They’re incredibly coachable and want to get better. We have a freshman class full of talent, and what’s even more important is that our returning players are showing them the way. Overall, this team is really special.”

In the first game of the Holiday Classic on Friday, the squad started off slowly against Emerson – leading by only five midway through the first half – but picked up its transition game thereafter. Grace Rehnquist ’13 provided a spark, coming off the bench to score eight straight points for the Ephs and give the team a 27-14 lead with 7:56 remaining.

The Ephs did not look back and eventually won with plenty of breathing room, 89-59.

For the weekend, Lisa Jaris ’12 was named MVP of the torunament, scoring 15 points in the final and leading the team with 17 points in Friday’s match. Jaris’ performance is especially impressive considering her severe ACL tear last January. “I’m so psyched for Lisa,” Manning said. “She’s so tough and has put an unbelievable amount of work into her rehab . . . Now, she’s stronger than ever.”

Chessie Jackson ’11 also received all-tournament honors. Manning points to her performance as one of the key reasons for the Ephs’ success: “Chessie has been so steady for us. She’s getting it done on both ends of the floor, her defense is so consistent, and offensively, she’s been shooting the lights out.” Jackson was solid against Emerson, dropping nine points and pulling in eight rebounds. In the final, Jackson scored 15 against the Lancers and went 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.
These Eph victories are the latest in a string of wins for the team. In a nail-biter on Tuesday, Dec. 1, the team pulled off a 67-64 win against Westfield State. The previous weekend, the squad traveled to MCLA and crushed the opposition, winning 100-62. And just before Thanksgiving, Williams earned a 66-47 win against rival Springfield.

Although it earned a win over Oneonta State in the second round of the tip-off tournament last November, the team struggled in the first round, losing its season opener to Baldwin-Wallace. “That was so early in our season, and so many things were unknown,” Manning said. “They have a very good team, but I really wish we could face them again this season. Things would be very different.”

The team took on RPI yesterday, but results came in too late to print. The women will play Western Connecticut at home tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. before facing off with Hamilton on Saturday at 2 p.m. in their final game before Winter Study.