Ephs look toward NCAA tournament

Photo courtesy of Sports Information MaryKate O’Brien ’16 recorded 47 assists for the Ephs in 2014.
Photo courtesy of Sports Information
MaryKate O’Brien ’16 recorded 47 assists for the Ephs in 2014.

Women’s Basketball Head Coach Pat Manning is back for her 25th season at the helm of the program, and the Ephs return their entire roster, save for two reserves, from a season ago. With experience, talent and depth, the Ephs look to improve upon the first round NCAA Tournament exit last season.

Last year’s squad compiled an impressive record of 20-6 and earned a second consecutive berth into the NCAA Div. III Tournament. In the first round, however, the women fell by a single point to Vassar, leaving them hungry for more.

Leading the way for the Ephs will be senior co-captains Kellie Macdonald ’15 and Ellen Cook ’15. Cook, a guard, was a WBCA Honorable Mention All-American last season as well as a member of both the D3hoops.com All-Northeast Third Team and the First Team All-NESCAC. Cook led the Ephs in several categories with 14.3 points per game, 3.9 assists per game, 2.5 steals per game and 34 minutes each night. Macdonald was second in points per game with 11.7 and second in field goal percentage, shooting 43.2 percent. She was also second in minutes per game and assists per game and third in blocks per game. In addition to the captains’ talent, which is clearly apparent from their gaudy stats, their leadership will be invaluable and key to the women’s success this season.

Returning with the captains are many experienced players who contributed greatly to the success of the 2013-14 team. Forward Oge Uwanaka ’16 led the Ephs with 7.8 rebounds per game and 1.8 blocks per contest while Katie Litman ’16, a forward, will be a returning big presence down low for the Ephs after missing the final 12 games of last season due to injury.

MaryKate O’Brien ’16 started 25 of the Ephs’ 26 games last season and played the most time at point guard, dishing out 47 assists and registering 24 steals while connecting on 33.3 percent of her shots beyond the three-point line. Lauren McCall ’17 came off the bench in all 25 games – she played and finished third on the Ephs in points per game with 9.0. McCall was the Ephs’ best shooter from the floor at 44.6 percent and their best three-point shooter at 39.8 percent. Guard Devon Caveney ’17 worked at the point and at the off-guard position and averaged 5.9 points per game.

In addition to the returning talent, Manning expects contributions from her three first-years: forward/guard Kristin Fetchtelkotter ’18, guard Amanni Fernandez ’18 and forward Lydia Zaleski ’18.

The Ephs’ road will be difficult to navigate as they face stiff competition all year, particularly in the NESCAC. Tufts and Amherst are Top 10 teams in both the D3hoops.com and USA Today polls, and Bowdoin is ranked 21st in the D3hoops.com poll. The women are ranked 15th by USA Today and 17th by D3hoops.com.

“The whole team has been working really hard to prepare for the season,” Cook said. “The new players have adjusted very quickly. We don’t have that many practices before our first game, but we all feel super ready for this weekend!”

The women open their season on Saturday against Rhode Island College at 3 p.m. as part of the Babson College Tip-Off Tournament. On Sunday, the women look to avenge last year’s NCAA loss as they take on Vassar at 1 p.m. at the same tournament.