Women streak to 12th in Div. III hoops

Women’s basketball has added five wins and one loss to its record since returning from winter break, leading to an impressive 15-1 (2-0 in the NESCAC) record. The Ephs are currently ranked 12th in Div. III women’s basketball. This past weekend saw the women claim commanding victories over Bates and Tufts, and Tuesday’s 70-36 win over Wesleyan gave the team a three-game winning streak. The women’s 85-63 loss to Amherst on Jan. 8 snapped a 12-game win streak, which included wins over Bridgewater State and Rivier in the Williams Winter Classic Jan. 2-3, dominating performances in the Wesley Shootout Dec. 28-29 and a strong showing at Hamilton on Dec. 11.

Williams battled to dispose of Tufts by a score of 61-59 in an overtime win on Saturday. The Ephs were set to win the game easily until Jumbo Colleen Hart sunk a three-pointer with 12 seconds left in regulation play, tying the game at 57-57 and sending the women into overtime. The Ephs’ third-ranked offense was led by Claire Baecher ’13 and tri-captain Taylor Shea ’11, who tallied 15 and 14 points, respectively. Danny Rainer ’13 also contributed significantly to the attack, scoring the Ephs’ winning overtime basket and contributing 12 points. This is the second straight year the Ephs have beaten the Jumbos at the buzzer: The team claimed a win last season with a timely field goal by Baecher.

The victory over Tufts came on the heels of a 56-50 triumph over Bates, which marked Head Coach Pat Manning’s first career victory at Bates. Tri-captain Chessie Jackson ’11 led the Ephs’ attack with 19 points, scoring nine points in the first four minutes of the game to give the Ephs a 13-4 lead. Williams led 27-25 at the close of the first half after permitting Bates a 13-point run that slashed the Ephs’ early lead. Jill Greenberg ’12 and Baecher also contributed significantly to the women’s victory, netting 12 and 10 points, respectively.

“Both games were very physical, and … we’re more a finesse team. So to be challenged in that way and to respond in a physical manner was really a great growing experience for us,” Assistant Coach Cassie Loftus said. “We had very good leadership in a lot of different areas.”

Tuesday’s resounding 70-36 victory over Wesleyan was Williams’ first NESCAC win of the season. Jennie Harding ’13 led the Ephs’ barrage with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Jackson, Baecher and Greenberg also scored nine or more points each in the Ephs’ effort. “We really did a good job against Wesleyan and took out our frustration about the Amherst loss on them,” said Loftus.

Williams had their 12-game win streak snapped by rival Amherst on Jan. 8. The first-ranked Jeffs secured a 22-7 lead in the first 12 minutes of play. Despite a valiant 13-point run at the end of the first half, the Ephs were never able to take the lead, permitting the Jeffs to score 21 points in the first five minutes of the second half and ultimately going down by 36 points. Amherst ultimately claimed an 85-63 victory.

“We didn’t compete the way that we wanted to,” said Loftus, “The game was so important, and it was such a huge rivalry. It was a big game for us because we were both undefeated, and I think we had a mental lapse at the beginning of the game.”

The loss to Amherst came after the women swept the Williams Winter Classic, beating both Bridgewater State and Rivier. Jackson, who leads the Ephs in scoring on the season, was named tournament MVP and Shea was named to the all-tournament team. In their 87-68 victory over Bridgewater State on Jan. 3, Jackson scored 18 points, Shea contributed 16 points and Greenberg collected 10 points and eight assists. Baecher, Grace Rehnquist ’13 and Lisa Jaris ’12 also contributed points to the win. Williams defeated Rivier 91-42 the day before.

The Ephs competed in the Wesley Shootout Dec. 28-29, bringing home two victories. The women defeated Drew 79-51 before finishing off Widener 75-63.

These wins followed a 67-48 domination of Hamilton on Dec. 11. Jackson led the team in scoring, amassing 22 points over the course of the game.

Williams will resume play on Friday with a home stand, beginning with a game against Conn. College at home; tip-off is at 8 p.m. The women will then challenge Wesleyan at 4 p.m. Saturday. The women finish with games against Eastern Conn. St. and conference foe Middlebury.