Women’s basketball (18-6, 7-2 in the NESCAC) split its road trip last weekend, falling to Amherst before taking down Trinity. Amherst defeated the women on Friday 86-52 before the women rebounded to sneak by Trinity 57-52 in their final regular season game on Saturday.
Williams looked strong at the outset of Saturday’s contest against Trinity and established a quick 5-0 lead. The Ephs maintained a lead until the Bantams went on a scoring run to take their first lead of the game, 11-10, with just over 12 minutes left in the first half. The Bantams kept the pressure on the rest of the half and entered the break with a 31-25 lead.
The Ephs were able to recover coming out of the locker room, fired up and tying the game 40-40 with 13 minutes left. The teams stayed within a few points of each other for the remainder of the half, with Williams pulling out a close win in the final minutes.
The win was the result of contributions from a number of players, as no Ephs scored in double figures. Chessie Jackson ’11 and Jennie Harding ’13 led Williams scorers with nine points apiece. Clare Baecher ’13 had eight points on the game. Tyler Rainer ‘11 added six, as did teammate Taylor Shea ’11.
Both teams struggled from the field, as the low score of the game would suggest: The Ephs shot just 33 percent, while the Bantams were held to 28 percent shooting.
Three Bantam players finished in double figures: Kaitlin Ciarleglio scored 14 points, Claire Arnstein scored 13 and Christine Card scored 10, while also pulling down nine boards. However, the strong individual performances from a few Bantams were outweighed by the Ephs’ dominant rebounding, which unequivocally made the difference in the game. Williams outrebounded Trinity 55-41 on the game. Harding, Shea, Baecher and Jackson all racked up high rebound numbers, as Harding and Shea grabbed nine boards apiece, Baecher added seven and Jackson finished with six.
On Friday, Amherst, the first-ranked team in the country, lived up to its national standing and defended its home court against Williams, coming out on top 86-52. Jackson and Grace Rehnquist ’13 each scored 11 points, but it was not enough. As a team, the Ephs shot just 29.6 percent from the field, while the Jeffs dominated offensively, shooting just below 50 percent on the game.
Head Coach Pat Manning was proud of her team for taking out Trinity less than 24 hours after the tough Amherst game. “I don’t think this was our best weekend, but we made major progress in the mental part of our game,” she said. “The way we bounced back after Amherst shows the character of this team.”
Captain Elizabeth Hansen also noted on the team’s quick turnaround. “The loss at Amherst almost made it easier to be motivated for Trinity – we were ready to get back out on the court,” she said. “It wasn’t a pretty game against Trinity, but we found a way to get the ‘W’ and that’s what good teams do.” According to Hansen, Williams’ key strength during the game was sheer numbers: “Many teams have trouble staying with us because we have such great depth.”
Manning expressed respect for the Trinity team. “Trinity is an aggressive, athletic, and very dangerous team,” she said. “They just come after you and make you work for everything. The key was for us to stay composed and take smart shots. It wasn’t our best shooting game but it was definitely one of our best rebounding efforts this season. Rebounding is what kept us in the game.”
Williams’ Saturday win over Trinity gives the women the No. 3 seed in the NESCAC tournament, granting Williams the home court advantage in their first round game against Bates at 2 p.m. in Chandler Gymnasium on Saturday. The Ephs beat the Bobcats 67-59 in their Jan. 16 matchup. Amherst, Colby and Tufts compose the rest of the top four seeds in this year’s upcoming NESCAC tournament.
The Ephs are now fully focused on the quickly approaching postseason. Manning isn’t allowing her team to rest on its laurels, and instead is focused on the challenges ahead.
“It was a great regular season. We are very proud of that,” Manning said. “But now everything starts over. Bates is very athletic and plays a fast-paced style similar to Trinity. [Our] team is healthy and we will be working on perfecting our game this week.”