Women’s hoops cracks top 15

No. 11 women’s basketball (6-0) continued its perfect season last weekend, defeating Bridgewater State and Daemen to win the Williams Holiday Classic. Last Friday, the women fought back from an early deficit to down Bridgewater State 89-63 in the first round of the classic.

Danny Rainer ’13
Danny Rainer ’13 had 12 points and four rebounds in the women’s 71-45 win over Daemen. Photo by Caleb Baer.

In Saturday’s tournament final, Williams overpowered Daemen’s defense for a 71-45 victory. The women also topped MCLA, Springfield, Babson and Whitman to open their season.

Williams pulled out a win over Bridgewater St. on Friday to open the Williams Holiday Classic. The Bears opened the contest with a six-point lead, but Grace Rehnquist ’13 grabbed the reins and carried the Ephs to a comeback. Rehnquist hit a three-pointer from the right side and delivered a beautiful assist on the next possession. She then nailed a three from the left side of the arc, lobbed a perfect alley-oop pass to Claire Baecher ’13 and converted a pair of free throws to knot the game at 21-21 with about 10 minutes left in the half.

The Bears fought back to tie the game at 30-30, but the Ephs finished the period with an 18-4 run. Key buckets from co-captain Lisa Jaris ’12, co-captain Jill Greenberg ’12 and Baecher put the women on top 48-34 at halftime.

The beginning of the second half was also a back-and-forth affair. The Ephs pushed their lead to 55-39, but the Bears got within 11 points with 14 minutes left in the game. The Ephs then pulled away to rout the Bears, extending their lead in the final minutes to take an 89-63 win. Baecher blazed the path, notching a double-double with 25 points and 10 boards, and Rehnquist added 19 from the bench. Williams shot an impressive 57.1 percent from the field.

Williams won the Williams Holiday Classic with a victory over Daemen in the championship game on Saturday. The first half was evenly matched, with the two sides trading buckets. Baecher energized the women with a block, an alley-oop and solid free throw shooting in the opening minutes to put the women up 11-9 with 13 minutes remaining in the half. Jen Borderud ’13 then stole the ball from a Daemen guard and took it the length of the court to bring the women’s lead to 13-9. Rehnquist, won contributed 11 points in the opening period, sunk a three from the left side to widen the gap to nine points. “Rehnquist was pretty fired up,” Head Coach Pat Manning said. “She was very dangerous from the three-point line.” The Wildcats fought back, but the Ephs went to the break with a 28-23 advantage.

The Ephs found another gear in the second half. Danny Rainer ’13 took over in the opening minutes, backing her defender down for a bucket in the post, finishing a floater in the lane and converting a difficult fade-away jump-shot. With a steal and pair of free throws from Baecher and a fast break layup from Greenberg, the Ephs pushed their lead to 41-27, forcing the Wildcats to burn a timeout midway through the second half. Daemen could not regroup after the stoppage, and Williams notched a 71-45 win for the classic championship.

“I think we’re a very strong second half team,” Baecher said. “We really dominate in the second half, and that’s when we pull away form other teams. We like to run and score a lot in transition. The goal is to now bring that same intensity to the first half.”

Baecher turned in a stellar performance on both sides of the ball, finishing the game with 20 points, nine blocks and seven rebounds to earn tournament MVP honors.

“Baecher had an amazing weekend,” Head Coach Pat Manning said. “She was outstanding both offensively and defensively.”

“Everyone contributed in this weekend’s games,” Baecher said. “They were both great team wins. We’ve had a great start to the season so far.” Manning was also pleased with the women’s success. “We had a great weekend. The key to our success was definitely defense. We played teams with explosive offenses, and we did a great job containing.”

The women’s tournament victories added to their perfect record this season.  On Nov. 27, the women topped MCLA 87-65 on the road, as Greenberg netted 23 points to lead the team. Williams dropped Springfield 62-42 at home on Nov. 22. Baecher netted 19 points, and Greenberg added 14 in the contest. On Nov. 20, the women scored a massive 61-39 upset over Babson at home, which entered the contest ranked fifth in the nation. Greenberg led the women’s offense with 15 points in the game. Williams opened with a tight 56-53 home victory against Whitman on Nov. 19, in which Baecher and Rainer led the way with 21 and 14 points, respectively.

The women will face Skidmore  today at 7 p.m. before hosting Wesleyan on Saturday at 2 p.m.