Third-seeded women’s basketball (18-7) lost its NESCAC quarterfinal game to sixth-seeded Bates 70-63 in a packed Chandler Gymnasium Saturday. Despite the loss, the Ephs could continue into the NCAA tournament if they receive an at-large bid.
Bates came out strong and set the tone at the opening of the first half, taking an early lead before Williams adjusted to its opponents’ fast paced, aggressive style of play and tied the game 10-10 with 12 minutes left in the half. Claire Baecher ’13 then hit a three pointer with just over 10 minutes left to give the Ephs their first lead of the game, 13-12.
Following Baecher’s score, Jill Greenberg ’12 opened the floodgates, quickly hitting a three pointer of her own and hitting two free throws. Grace Rehnquist ’13 continued the scoring with five points of her own, nailing a three and a basket down low in quick succession to put the Ephs up 26-21 with less than five minutes to play in the half.
The momentum temporarily swung back to Bates when Bobcats Annie Burns and Allie Beaulieu tied the game at 26 with a jumper and three pointer, respectively. The Ephs, however, responded with a quick 6-2 run to enter the break up 36-32.
Bates came out of the locker room fired up and controlled the first several minutes of the second half, quickly tying the game at 41 with just under 17 minutes left to play. Unlike in the first half, the Ephs were unable to recover from their slow start. Bates amassed their biggest lead of the game at 13 points, up 54-41 with 12 minutes left in the half.
The women appeared poised for a comeback when, with 10 minutes left to play, Greenberg led the charge on a brief scoring run. The sophomore scored four points to bring the Ephs within seven, 54-47. Williams, however, was unable to capitalize on the opportunity for a last-minute surge and failed close the gap any further. The teams traded baskets until the final whistle made Bates’ 70-63 win official.
The Bates victory was due in large part to three impressive scoring performances: Lauren Yanofsky and Allie Beaulieu each scored 18 points, while Annie Burns added 12. Yanofksy also lead her team in rebounding and blocks, finishing the game with nine and three respectively.
Taylor Shea ’11 led the Ephs with 16 points, while Greenberg added 13 and Lisa Jaris ’12 posted nine. Williams struggled from the field as a team, making just 32.8 percent of its shots compared with Bates’ 40.3 percent shooting percentage. The Ephs were very efficient from the free throw line, however, going 11-13 in the first half and 7-11 in the second to 75 percent overall.
Looking ahead, Williams Head Coach Pat Manning believes that the team has a promising future. “All that has transpired this year will only make us stronger next year. We had a young team with six first-years, four sophomores, three juniors and three seniors, which meant our young players got valuable minutes and that’s only going to help us in the future,” she said.
Manning especially praised captain Elizabeth Hansen ’10 for her contributions and leadership on the team over the past four years of her collegiate career. “I want to give a lot of credit to Elizabeth Hansen,” Manning said. “The way she approached practice every day sent a message to our younger players. She taught them what it’s like to be a true team player.”
The women are not necessarily finished for the season: The Ephs have a good chance of playing in NCAAs if their regional ranking for this week is sixth or above. Because the New England region is one of the strongest in the country, the seven automatic NCAA bids from conference championships in the region are supplemented by three to five at-large bids. The women are in position to claim one of those berths, considering that last week they were ranked No. 4 in their region. Regional rankings were not posted at press-time. The NCAA tournament field will be announced next Monday.