Four Ephs break double digits in 68-43 victory over Camels

Women’s basketball (12-2, 3-1 in the NESCAC) battled Conn. College last Saturday. In an impressive offensive display, four Ephs scored in double figures to contribute to a 68-43 home victory. The women’s defense held the Camels without a field goal for almost 10 consecutive minutes, while the offense went on big runs to start the first and second periods.

The previous day, the men hosted Wesleyan in a heated conference matchup. An onslaught of three-pointers, including a trio of long balls from Grace Rehnquist ’13, helped the Ephs find a big lead toward the end of the first half. The women never looked back, using a balanced inside-outside attack and stiff defense to earn the 68-50 win. The Ephs have gone 4-1 since Dec. 8.

Against Conn. College, the Ephs raced to an early 7-0 advantage behind strong play on both sides of the ball from co-captain Claire Baecher ’13, who led the team in points, rebounds and assists. Baecher and co-captain Danny Rainer ’13 dominated the paint, notching four combined blocks. Oge Uwanaka ’16 continued to prove her skills, converting a strong drive on her first possession. Outside shots from Kellie Macdonald ’15 and Rehnquist pushed the lead to 14 with eight minutes remaining in the half, while a corner three from Ellen Cook ’15 and a steal from Jennie Harding ’13 maintained the advantage. The Ephs entered the break up 36-21.

The Ephs began the second half with a 9-0 run that all but sealed the win. Baecher and Rainer commanded the paint, with Rainer splitting the defense and finding Baecher for a three-point play. Midway through the half, the women found themselves up more than 20 points. Baecher led the way with 15 points; Rehnquist scored 14; Macdonald racked up 13 – her season high; and Rainer went five for six and recorded 10 points.

“We’ve really been emphasizing a balanced attack, an inside-outside offensive approach and trying to move the ball well,” Head Coach Pat Manning said. “At the beginning of the season, our defense was carrying us, but now we’re seeing the offense stepping up.”

Against Wesleyan on Friday, the women got off to a hot start. A skillful assist from Rainer to Baecher preceded a Cook three-pointer to spur an opening lead. The Cardinals, however, cut the early deficit to make it a 7-6 game. But Wesleyan couldn’t hang with the women, as Rehnquist energized the offense with a triad of long balls that ignited a downtown barrage for Williams. The Ephs went on a 32-10 run in the final 16 minutes. The run eventually slowed as the two sides started trading baskets, but not before the Ephs had assumed a 31-11 advantage with seven minutes remaining in the half. The back-and-forth play continued until the break, and the Ephs left the court up 23 points.

The Cardinals took the floor in the second period with renewed energy and intensity. Cutting the lead to 19, it seemed Wesleyan was poised to mount a comeback. But the Ephs quickly squashed the resurgence behind some brilliant passing from Rainer, who found a cutting Rehnquist for the basket before feeding Harding for a big three. Cook scored a three of her own, and Katie Litman ’16 contributed with a score as the lead surged to 28.

“Playing at home, we really try to outwork other teams,” Manning said. “Getting off to a fast start, we make them react to us; we dictate the pace of the game.”

The pair of victories on Friday and Saturday came after a lopsided 71-36 road victory at Bates on Jan. 5, where Rehnquist notched a career-high 32 points. Her performance ranks among the most spectacular individual scoring efforts in the team’s history.

A day prior, the women dropped a tight away contest to Tufts in both teams’ NESCAC season opener. Though Cook led a second-half comeback with a game-high 15 points, including five points in as many seconds with roughly 1:30 left to play, the women couldn’t close the deficit and ultimately fell 61-57 to Tufts.

A week earlier, the team traveled to Whittier, Calif., to participate in the Purple & Gold Poet Classic. In their tournament opener, the women faced off against Wisconsin-Lutheran. Coming off a three-week break, the Ephs were spurred by native Californian Harding. Her perfect night from downtown contributed to an 11-of-19 three-point shooting display from the Ephs. The following day, the women took on Gallaudet, a federally-chartered school for the hard of hearing. The game saw the Ephs jump out to a quick advantage. Heartened by an early 22-4 run, the women shot 59 percent in the first half, earning them a lead that they expanded in the 82-38 rout. Harding shot well once again, while the Ephs’ forwards dominated inside, earning 43 points from the paint.

The women faced Plattsburgh State at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, but results came in too late to report. The women will travel to Babson to battle the Beavers on Friday at 6 p.m., where they will look to build on last weekend’s success.

“We’ve got 10 games left, and seven of those are on the road,” Manning said. “There’s tough competition ahead, but we’re playing solid basketball right now. With a lot of options offensively, we’re hoping to carry the momentum from [last] weekend into this road stretch.”