Women’s hoops slips to No. 23 after split

No. 23 women’s basketball (14-2, 2-2 in the NESCAC) split a pair of conference road games last weekend, falling to Conn. College 81-72 on Saturday after trouncing Little Three rival Wesleyan 65-51 on Friday. The NESCAC games came in the wake of a 68-35 beat down of Maine Presque Isle at home last Wednesday. Prior to last week’s 2-1 run, the women have run off a 7-1 record since Dec. 7.

Saturday’s match-up with Conn. College started on a negative note for Williams, as the women lost leading scorer and rebounder Claire Baecher ’13 to a knee injury only six minutes into the contest. Nevertheless, the women were able to keep the game close for the entire first half, and entered the break down by only six, with Conn. College leading 40-34. The women opened the second half with a bang, scoring six straight points to knot the game at 40-40 in the opening minutes.

However, the Camels matched the Ephs’ intensity: They retook the lead on a jumper and stretched the margin to as wide as 11 points following a three from Jenn Sinall, making the score 65-54 with 6:58 to play. The Ephs pulled within five when a basket from Danny Rainer ’13 made the score 65-50, but the Camels held the women off and walked away with an 81-72 victory.

Rainer finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds, while point guard and tri-captain Jill Greenberg ’12 poured in 21 points and handed out eight assists. The Ephs missed Baecher’s presence on the boards, as Camel Tara Gabelman pulled in 23 rebounds and added 17 points for the Camels, who out-rebounded the Ephs 32-22 overall.

Friday night’s contest with Wesleyan saw a stronger performance from Williams. Baecher and Greenberg led the way for the Ephs, as Baecher scored 16 points and pulled in 14 rebounds, while Greenberg scored 19 points and added four assists. However, the Cardinals jumped out to an early 18-14 lead 12 minutes into the half. The Ephs then found their stride offensively, closing the half on an 11-5 run to take a 28-23 lead into the break.

Coming out of the half, there was no looking back for Williams. The Ephs outshot the Cardinals 50 percent to 34 percent in the second 20 minutes and stretched their lead to as many as 19 points before claiming a 65-51 win.

“I thought we played a great game against Wesleyan,” Head Coach Pat Manning said. “The thing about our conference is that it’s really very strong. There’s a lot of upsets going on, and there’s a lot of parity right now. I was thrilled with the way we played against Wesleyan.”

The women turned in a dominant performance against Maine Presque Isle last Wednesday. The teams traded scores throughout the game’s opening minutes, and the Owls had a 10-8 lead with 12:28 to play in the first half. The Ephs then exploded, closing the half on a 24-3 run behind seven points from Baecher and heading to the lockers with a 32-13 lead. The women performed similarly in the second half, stretching their lead to as many as 34 and coming away with a 68-35 victory.

Defense was the name of the game for the Ephs against the Owls, as Williams forced 29 turnovers in the game and held Presque Isle to 35-percent shooting. Baecher led the way with 14 points, and 13 different Ephs scored in the game.

Last Wednesday’s victory came on the heels of another split NESCAC weekend. On Jan. 8, the women defeated Bates 71-40. The victory was a recovery from the previous night, when Williams suffered its first loss of the year to Tufts 63-40, also at home.

The loss came after a long string of Eph victories. The women had a stellar holiday break, coming up with a 71-49 victory over University of New England on Jan. 2, a 62-47 win over RPI on Dec. 30 and a 66-43 victory over Rutgers-New York on Dec. 29. Prior to the break, the women topped Wesleyan 69-55 on Dec. 10 and Skidmore 47-31 on Dec. 7.

The women will take on Eastern Connecticut State tomorrow night at 7 p.m. on the road. They will then host NESCAC foe Hamilton on Sunday at 2 p.m.