Women’s basketball (19-3, 5-3 in the NESCAC) faced off against undefeated Tufts last Saturday in its final regular season home game, but could not come out on top as Tufts pulled away with a 64-45 victory. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak that was extended Friday, as Williams put on their most dominating performance so far to defeat Bates by a score of 84-45.
Both Williams and Tufts played aggressively right from the opening tip-off during Saturday’s game. Neither team built up a lead of more than three points for the opening five minutes as a result of stiff defensive pressure by both the Ephs and the Jumbos, but a three-pointer by MaryKate O’Brien ’16 put the Ephs on top by six points early in the first half. The Jumbos fought back with the help of seven consecutive free throws over the span of three possessions to bring the score to 23-21 in favor of the Ephs with 10 minutes left in the half.
By the end of the first half, both teams stepped up their defenses to the point where only two baskets were made in the final five minutes, and Williams entered the locker room trailing 31-27.
Williams made a strong push in the opening minutes of the second half, coming within one point of Tufts after Oge Uwanaka ’16 and co-captain Ellen Cook ’15 put up six unanswered points. However, Tufts responded with an 11-0 run that placed Williams at a 45-34 deficit and the women could not break through the Tufts’ sturdy defense to narrow the gap back to single digits.
At the final whistle, Tufts came out ahead, winning by a score of 64-45. Cook led the Ephs with 16 points and Uwanaka contributed with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“We knew that the Tufts game was going to be competitive,” Cook said. “I think that this loss will motivate us for the end of the season.”
On Friday night in its game against Bates, Williams got off to a fast start by capitalizing on several fast break scores to take an 11-3 lead in the opening minutes. Although the Bobcats put three points on the board to decrease the Ephs’ lead to five, the Ephs held a large lead for a majority of the first half. In the last two minutes, co-captain Kellie Macdonald ’15 added two points and a free throw to bring the score to 38-24 at the half.
Williams quickly erased any hopes for a Bates comeback, starting off the second half with 21 unanswered points. In the opening 10 minutes of the half, the women held Bates to just five points, applying relentless defensive pressure coupled with a 58-percent field goal percentage on offense. Macdonald led the Ephs with 14 points in the team’s 84-45 victory, with Jane Thompson ’16 and Lauren McCall ’17 each adding 12 points.
On Jan. 31, Williams earned a hard-fought victory on the road against Middlebury. Although the Ephs trailed 11-2 early, they clawed their way back in the first half, reclaiming the lead with 3:18 left in the half.
Neither team mustered a lead larger than three points until McCall made a layup to put the Ephs up 50-45 with ten minutes left in the game.
Middlebury cut the deficit to four with 20 seconds left in the game, but Cook calmly made a pair of free throws to give Williams some breathing room. In the Ephs’ 60-55 victory, Macdonald led the team with 19 points, while Cook and McCall combined for 18 rebounds.
The women faced off against Smith on Jan. 27 and found themselves down 46-32 at halftime. However, the Ephs fared better in the second period, using three-pointers to cut the deficit and take the lead.
A three-pointer by Cook late in the half extended Williams’ lead to eight and the team stayed ahead by sinking free throws to win the game 89-80.
On Jan. 25, Williams defeated Hamilton by a comfortable margin of 17 points. The Ephs took a 30-23 lead into the locker room at halftime, and Cook’s 12 second-half points, coupled with nine second-half rebounds for Uwanaka, helped the Ephs to maintain a comfortable lead, winning the game 66-49.
The women defeated archrival Amherst on Jan. 22 in a nailbiting 65-63 game.
This weekend, Williams will conclude its regular season with a game at Conn College on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and a contest against Wesleyan at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.