Ephs triumph at home in conference play

Last weekend, women’s basketball (14-2, 2-2 in the NESCAC) produced a strong showing at Chandler Gymnasium, capped with a 71-54 victory over Colby on Saturday. Just one day earlier, the Williams squad, No. 15 in the USA Today Div. III Coaches poll, defeated No. 18 Bowdoin by a score of 69-55.

“We really tried to emphasize pushing the pace this weekend and I think we did that very well, outrunning both Bowdoin and Colby and scoring a lot in transition,” co-captain Kellie Macdonald ’15 said.

For the first 10 minutes of the Ephs’ game against the Mules, neither team could expand their lead further than four points. Oge Uwanaka ’16 and Macdonald combined to score the Ephs’ first 10 points, while the teams traded baskets to put the score at 18-14 with 10:04 left in the first half. Colby then went on a 16-6 run over the next five minutes, highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers, to go ahead 30-24.

That would be the biggest lead of the game for the Mules, as the Ephs rallied with the help of a pair of baskets from both Macdonald and Lauren McCall ’17 to close the half, giving the Ephs a 33-30 lead.

Williams came out of the locker room at half time ready to play and pulled away from Colby with an 8-0 run in the first three minutes of the second half. The Mules brought the Ephs’ lead back to single digits, bringing the score to 43-34 with 14 minutes to play, but the Ephs continued to play well and slowly expanded their lead to as many as 18 points before finishing with a 71-54 victory.

McCall came off of the bench to lead the team in scoring with 17 points, while Uwanaka, Macdonald and co-captain Ellen Cook ’15 all contributed with double-digit point totals.

“Lauren McCall had a breakout weekend, she shot the ball extremely well,” said Head Coach Pat Manning.

On Saturday, Williams faced a stiff challenge against a Bowdoin squad that had only lost once prior to their meeting with Williams. This did not stop Williams from going on a 17-4 run to begin the game, amassing a double-digit lead within the first six minutes of the first half. The Ephs went 6-13 behind the three-point line while shooting 50% from the field in the first half, and went into the locker room at halftime with a 42-19 lead.

The Polar Bears chipped away at the Ephs’ lead throughout the second half, and a pair of free throws by junior guard Sara Binkhorst brought the Polar Bears to a nine-point deficit. However, a three-pointer by McCall gave the Ephs a twelve-point lead, and strong free throw shooting by the Ephs led the team to a 69-55 victory.

“We were aggressive on both ends of the floor,” said Manning. “Our transition game was the best that it has been all season and we played strong team defense.”

On Jan. 11, Williams travelled to face No. 3 Amherst, undefeated at the time, in a conference showdown. Both teams fought aggressively in the first half, with neither squad able to muster a lead greater than seven points. Although the Jeffs pulled away in the second half, the Ephs were only down five with 11 minutes left in the game. However, Amherst sank a series of three baskets from behind the arc to expand their lead to double digits, a margin Williams could not overcome in their 78-62 loss.

On Jan. 10, Williams lost their conference opener against Trinity by a score of 65-49. The Bantams started the game with a 14-0 run, and while the Ephs rallied to bring their deficit to only three points, it was not enough to come away with the victory.

“[On Jan. 10 and Jan. 11] we picked up our first two losses of the season and as a young team I think we did a great job learning from that experience and coming out with much more determination and intensity this [past] weekend,” Macdonald said.

Williams opened 2014 with a pair of wins, defeating St. Lawrence 50-38 on Jan. 5 and outscoring RPI 66-44 on Jan. 4. The team also came away with two victories in the Daytona Beach Shootout, defeating Potsdam St. 65-42 on Dec. 20, just one day after coming out on top against Babson, winning 56-47. Earlier in the season, Williams travelled to Wesleyan in a non-conference Little Three matchup on Dec. 7, and came out victorious by a score of 53-46.

Williams will get the chance to redeem themselves for their loss against Amherst on Wednesday, as they face off in Chandler Gymnasium tonight at 6:00 p.m. for a chance to clinch the Little Three Championship. On Sunday at 2:00 p.m., Williams faces Hamilton in what will be the women’s fourth consecutive home game.

“We have a big week coming up with Amherst on Wednesday and Hamilton on Saturday,” Manning said. “We are taking it one game at a time and look forward to a packed gym on Wednesday!”

 

Mary Kate O'Brien '16 drives to the hoop against Colby
Photo courtesy of Sports Information
Mary Kate O’Brien ’16 drives to the hoop against Colby