Women’s hoops banks on strength of senior squad

Women’s basketball will kick off its 2012-13 season this weekend. The team is looking to build off the successes of last season, in which the women ended the year 19-6 overall and 6-4 in the conference and cracked the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament.

The Ephs enter this year having lost Jill Greenberg ’12, Lisa Jaris ’12 and Ana Rodriguez-Villa ’12 to graduation last year. Guard Greenberg was an integral part of the Eph offense last season; She started in all 25 games, led the team in steals and assists, finished second in scoring behind this year’s co-captain Claire Baecher ’13 and earned First Team All-NESCAC honors. In her senior year, Greenberg became the all-time assists leader in program history with 489 assists, and her 133 assists during the 2011-12 season stand as a single-season Williams record. Additionally, she scored over 1000 points during her collegiate career. Defensively, Jaris was a big contributor, averaging roughly four rebounds and five points per game.

With Greenberg’s departure, returning starting guards Jennie Harding ’13 and Grace Rehnquist ’13 will have to shoulder a heavier load. The sharpshooting Rehnquist led the team in three-pointers last season, and her long ball will continue to be an important part of the Eph offense. Returning leading scorer Baecher may also have to increase her offensive production. Last year saw her sidelined for about a quarter of the season due to injury, but when healthy, Baecher averaged a formidable 15.3 points per game. She will surely be a dominant presence in the paint this year.

Returning starting forward co-captain Danny Rainer ’13, who shot an impressive 46 percent from the field and averaged 8.9 points per game in the 2011-12 season, will also be looked to as one of this year’s leaders and a critical scoring force. In addition, guards Harding, Jen Borderud ’13 and Ellen Cook ’15 will look to increase their offensive production for the team. Forward Kellie MacDonald ’15, who started all 25 games in her rookie season, will also be a key returning player for the women.

On the rookie front, the women welcome four additions: guard MaryKate O’Brien ’16, guard/forward Oge Uwanaka ’16, forward Lauren Claypoole ’16 and forward/center Katie Litman ’16.

“The six seniors [Stephanie Browne ’13, Baecher, Rainer, Borderud, Harding and Rehnquist] are extremely motivated to make our last season playing Williams basketball the most successful yet,” Rainer said. “The team has been working hard all fall in anticipation for the start of our season, and it really shows.  We are excited to see what we will be able to accomplish by the end of the season.”

The women hope to showcase the results of their preseason practice in kicking off their season this Saturday in a home contest against Salve Regina. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. Williams will next challenge the University of New England on Sunday before hosting MCLA on Nov. 25 and RPI on Nov. 30. Finally, the women will host the Williams Holiday Classic, where they will face Bridgewater State on Dec. 1.