Women’s basketball (20-4, 6-3 in the NESCAC) challenged a Div. III second-ranked Amherst squad on Saturday. The game marked the final regular season home game for tri-captains Chessie Jackson ’11, Taylor Shea ’11 and Maddie King ’11. After losing to Amherst earlier in the season by a score of 85-63, Williams came out looking for redemption on Senior Day. The game followed a Friday night win over Trinity, and the women sought to ride that momentum into their game against rival Amherst. However, the Jeffs featured a balanced attack that proved to be too much for the Ephs, dropping the home team 66-55.
Guard Jill Greenberg ’12 handled the ball effectively for the Ephs throughout the game. Greenberg’s court vision worked in her favor right from the start, as she was able to find open teammates on several occasions. She finished with 16 points, two assists and two steals. “Jill has a tough job. It’s hard running the offense but also being expected to play really great defense,” said Head Coach Pat Manning. Despite Greenberg’s efforts, the team’s shots did not fall early in the game, and the women trailed 10-2 less than five minutes into the game.
Following a timeout, the Ephs gained steam, as Greenberg found forward Claire Baecher ’13 in the corner for a three-point shot that brought the Ephs within four. Baecher finished the game with 12 points and four rebounds. “As a sophomore, Claire is really progressing,” Manning said. “She’s getting better and better every day.”
Shea was unrelentingly aggressive under the rim, scoring on her opponents at will. The forward was a constant force as a rebounder, gaining eight offensive rebounds and giving her team the second-chance opportunities necessary to score against a tough Amherst defense. Shea finished with a double-double, tallying 14 points and 16 rebounds. “Taylor ran the floor really well. She’s caught fire at the right time,” Manning said.
After the Jeffs gained a second chance on an offensive rebound of their own, an easy put-back extended their lead to 10 points at 31-21. In an effort to mount a comeback, Jennie Harding ’13 drilled a three-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit to seven. The field goal catalyzed the women’s offense, as they ended the half with an 8-2 run. At halftime, the Ephs again trailed by four at 33-29.
The women came out aggressively after halftime, led by Greenberg’s tenacity and awareness. In one of the first plays of the half, Greenberg was able to find Jackson in the paint, who proceeded to make a strong move toward the rim to convert the lay-up. Jackson added five rebounds and two blocks to her five points as the Ephs’ cut the Jeff’s lead to two points. After falling behind by 10 points midway through the second half, the Ephs made a final run at the Jeffs, but were unable to mount a comeback as they took a 66-55 loss.
Despite the loss, Manning was positive about the team’s performance. “We played Amherst very well and we were able to out-rebound them for the first time in a couple of years,” she said. “We’re going to have another look at them for sure down the road, but we feel like we’re inching closer and closer.”
Williams hosted Trinity on Friday. The Ephs effectively controlled the tempo of the game and come out with a 65-55 win.
Greenberg consistently found an open teammate for easy buckets, and drove to the basket herself when she had an open lane. She finished the game with seven points and three assists. Grace Rehnquist ’13 scored 18 points, shooting an efficient 7-13 from the field. Rehnquist had her way with the Bantams’ defense, displaying a soft touch in the paint and a smooth shot from behind the three-point arc. Rehnquist drained four of her eight three-point attempts and played a total of 25 minutes. Shea was active under the rim in this contest 15 points and grabbing 12 boards, five of which were offensive.
The Ephs were able to capitalize on some of the Bantams’ mistakes early on and turned in a strong defensive effort to keep the Bantams at bay. Williams held Trinity to a 33 percent field goal shooting percentage.
“We’ve been trying to take it one game at a time, trying to get better every day. To us, teams are made in practice,” Manning said.
Williams will play out of the fourth seed and host Tufts in the first round of the NESCAC Championship on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
“It’s the postseason and everybody is 0-0,” Manning said. “To be able to start with a home game, we feel we are in a great position.”