Conf. foes drop women’s hoops

After adding four more wins to their impressive record, women’s basketball (19-3, 5-2 in the NESCAC) dropped two games to NESCAC rivals Bowdoin and Colby this weekend. The women claimed four straight victories over Middlebury on Jan. 29, Eastern Connecticut State on Jan. 27, Wesleyan on Jan. 22 and Conn. College on Jan. 21 prior to the losses.

The women played a tight game against Colby for the first 10 minutes on Saturday before allowing Colby to go on a 12-point run, though Claire Baecher ’13 sought to get the women back on track by netting 10 points in the first half. The Eph defense gave up eight consecutive points in the half before Jill Greenberg ’12 broke the streak by putting away a three-pointer at the buzzer. Williams trailed 44-39 at halftime.

The women came out flat in the second half, allowing Colby to extend its five-point lead into the double digits. A galvanized Eph team went on the attack in the final quarter, narrowing the lead to a mere six points with 3:04 left to play with the help of superb free-throw shooting from Jennie Harding ’13. However, Williams’ renewed energy was not enough to win the game: The women lost 85-71.

“Our defense let us down at Colby and the entire weekend. We didn’t play the type of defense that you need to get a NESCAC win,” said Head Coach Pat Manning.

The Colby loss came on the heels of a 62-53 loss to Bowdoin. Williams has not beaten Bowdoin on the road since 1999, and Friday’s road loss to the Polar Bears continued that trend, breaking the team’s seven-game winning streak. Grace Rehnquist ’13 and Baecher led the Eph offense, scoring 19 and 13 points, respectively. Baecher also had eight rebounds on the night.

The Ephs started the game with energy, jumping to an early 5-0 lead. At the half, however, Williams trailed by 12, with Rehnquist and Baecher combining for 19 of the women’s first 23 points. Down 14 points with 17:08 left to play, Rehnquist scored eight points in a row to tighten the score to 40-34 in the Polar Bears’ favor. After a pair of three-pointers from Baecher and Rehnquist, the score was tied 40-40. Williams soon fell behind again and continued to chase Bowdoin’s lead throughout the second half. The Ephs were never able to overtake the Polar Bears and, despite coming within two points, ultimately fell 62-53.

The two losses were the second and third of Williams’ season. Prior to the two games, the Ephs had compiled a seven-game winning streak that included three NESCAC victories. Williams beat Middlebury 72-55, defeated Eastern Connecticut State 64-54, and took down Little Three rival Wesleyan 82-48 to round out January. Williams also overcame the women from Conn. College with a score of 72-47.

“This is a very together team and a very motivated team and we happened to have one bad weekend. We’re really focusing on the little things now and getting back to our basics,” said Manning.

In the Middlebury game, tri-captain Taylor Shea ’11 led the offense with a double-double, recording 18 points and 10 rebounds. Baecher and Rehnquist added 12 points each, and Greenberg added 11 points and six assists in the Ephs’ 72-55 victory over the Panthers.

Prior to their victory over Middlebury, the women battled past Eastern Connecticut State. The team started the game slowly before rallying near the end of the first half to head into halftime with a 26-24 lead. Tri-captain Chessie Jackson ’11 helped her team to stay afloat, recording all of her 11 points in the first half. The Ephs then gained momentum in the second half, staying tough on defense and putting the game away.

Jackson also played well in the team’s wins over Conn. College and Wesleyan. In the game against Wesleyan, Jackson scored a game-high 31 points, while fellow Eph Shea also finished the game with a double-digit point total. The Ephs performed well offensively against the Cardinals, shooting at a 50 percent clip compared to the Cardinals’ 31 percent pace. These conference victories were Williams’ 16th and 17th victories of the season.

Williams will host Trinity and Amherst this weekend. Tip-off against the Bantams will be at 8 p.m. on Friday. The women will then challenge the Jeffs on Saturday at 4 p.m.