Women’s hoops splits weekend

After a devastating overtime loss to Colby the night before, women’s basketball (17-5, 6-1 in the NESCAC) soundly defeated Bowdoin 75-54 on Saturday afternoon’s Senior Day behind what Head Coach Pat Manning described as a “total team effort.” With the victory, which was the team’s first against the Polar Bears since 2000, the Ephs clinched a home game in the first round of the upcoming NESCAC tournament. Recent wins over Wesleyan, Conn. College and Middlebury also contributed to the women’s current standings.

Williams started off slowly, as Bowdoin took an early 12-5 lead in the first five minutes. However, Manning switched the defense to an aggressive trapping 2-3 zone, which proved extremely effective at shutting down the Polar Bears and forcing turnovers on the perimeter. The change sparked a 17-2 Williams run, as the Ephs pulled ahead. They would remain in the lead throughout the rest of the game.

“Our defense was awesome,” said Jill Greenberg ’12, who tied with the team lead with four steals and led the team in scoring with 15 points. “They couldn’t get a shot off.”

In the second half, the women continued to utilize the zone traps to great effect while successfully executing on offense. For the game, the team snagged 16 steals and shot 46 percent from the field, including six three-pointers. The Ephs led by as many as 24 at 70-46 after a runner from Greenberg. Both teams went to their benches in the closing minutes as the game was decided and ended in a 75-54 Eph victory.

“We put together a complete game,” Manning said. “Everybody stepped up.” Manning particularly praised the play at both ends from forward Claire Baecher ’13, who had a career-high 14 points on the game, including four three-pointers, and the energy from forward Taylor Shea ’11, guard Grace Rehnquist ’13 and guard Kelsey Ham ’12 off the bench. Nine Ephs scored on the game.

“We were running, and that’s how we perform well,” said captain Elizabeth Hansen ’10, who was honored during Saturday’s Senior Day. “Few teams can keep up with [our depth and athleticism].”

Bowdoin is a traditional NESCAC powerhouse that had won the past 14 meetings between the two teams. Last season, Williams lost to Bowdoin twice, both times by more than 30-point margins, including a loss in the NESCAC quarterfinals that ended its season.

“It’s a big game for the whole program,” Manning said, acknowledging and crediting past players, many of whom were in the stands on Saturday. “For us to dominate is just incredible.”

On Friday, Willams suffered their first conference loss of the season at home to Colby. The 74-68 loss snapped a six-game winning streak dating back to Jan. 9. Williams took an early 4-0 lead on a runner in the lane by Baecher, but it was erased by a 10-2 run by Colby that saw the Mules capitalize on offensive rebounding and Eph turnovers. The Ephs pulled within two with five minutes left in the half after a long three-pointer from Chessie Jackson ’11, but the Mules’ Jil Vaughan, who totaled 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds on the night, responded with a putback as Colby rebuilt its lead back up to 31-24 at the half.

The Ephs slowly fought back to lead in the second half, finally pulling ahead on a pull-up jumper from guard Jen Borderud ’13 to cap off a 9-2 run. A layup by Shea put Williams up 54-47 with six minutes left in regulation, the Ephs’ largest lead of the night. However, the Mules pulled ahead to a 57-56 lead in the final minutes. Ham responded with a clutch three-pointer to regain the lead. But after a Colby miss, Jackson – who led the Ephs with 20 points on the night – was fouled and missed on the first one-and-one free throw. Colby forward Rachael Mack then proceeded to tie the game at 59-all with a putback after two offensive rebounds with .5 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.

In the extra period, the teams exchanged baskets before the Mules eventually pulled away, due in large part to second chance points as the Ephs’ rebounding woes continued. The final score was 74-68. On the night, Williams was outrebounded 54-43, including 26-16 on the offensive end.

“We were definitely disappointed,” Greenberg said. “We gave it to them by making silly mistakes.”

Regardless, Manning was very pleased with the team’s performance over the past week. “We grew a lot this weekend,” Manning said. “[After the Colby game] we turned it around, and it showed the character of the team.”

The Ephs have gone 5-1 over the past two weeks. Williams felled Middlebury 75-60 on Jan. 30, led by an 18 point showing from Jackson and 16 points on 7-7 shooting from forward Lisa Jaris ’12. On Jan. 23, the team was victorious against Conn. College, 69-51, as Greenberg led all scorers with 18 points while Jackson scored 17 points to go along with her seven assists and eight rebounds. Williams defeated Wesleyan 53-46 on Jan. 22 behind 17 points from Jackson, including three three-pointers.

The women will end the regular season with road games at Amherst on Friday at 6 p.m. and at Trinity on Saturday at 2 p.m. Amherst is currently ranked first in the country with a 21-0 record, including a victory over Williams on Jan. 9.

“They’re both very good teams,” Manning said. “We’ll definitely have our hands full.”

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