Women’s basketball (2-0) opened up its season last weekend at the Babson Tip-Off Classic, downing Rhode Island College 59-47 on Saturday and overcoming Vassar 75-67 on Sunday.
Hardly eight months have gone by since the women clashed in the first round of the NCAA Div. III tournament with Vassar, where the women narrowly fell 76-75.
Eight months may not sound like a very long time, but for Amanni Fernandez ’18 and the Ephs, it made all the difference in the world last Sunday afternoon at the neutral Staake Gym.
Fernandez, a point guard who had less than an hour of collegiate playing time to her name coming into the game, scored 27 points off the bench to guide the women to a 75-67 win over Vassar. Co-captain Ellen Cook ’15 added 14 points for the Ephs, who took little time to dig themselves out of an early hole and shoot 41.3 percent (26-61) on the afternoon.
Though the Ephs started the game with a sizable amount of energy, they struggled to maintain consistent possession and did not score a field goal until Fernandez made a layup after nearly four-and-a-half minutes of play. In between, there were plenty of whistles to slow the Ephs’ rhythm.
The Ephs held the Brewers to just six field goals in the first half, the Brewers took full advantage of the Ephs’ 14 personal fouls by shooting 15 of 17 from the line in the period. But a hot shooting stretch from Cook, who scored eight points and added an assist in the final minute of the first half and the first minute of the second, helped the Ephs overcome their early foul issues and start 2-0 for the fifth-straight season.
Leading the way for the women against Rhode Island College last Saturday was Katie Litman ’16, who shot five of eight from the field and notched a double-double by pulling down 13 rebounds in addition to her 11 points. Overall, though, the game’s score line matched its gritty nature, as the two teams managed almost identical shooting percentages, with the Ephs holding only a slight edge over the Anchorwomen at 36.5 percent compared to 34.0 percent, respectively.
A simple layup from co-captain Kellie Macdonald ’15 and an unorthodox left-handed shot from MaryKate O’Brien ’16 snapped the Ephs out of their funk in the first-half, just before the period’s halfway point. Those baskets helped spark a 15-3 run for the Ephs that chewed up over seven minutes of the clock and was punctuated by a pair of three-pointers from Lauren McCall ’17, who led all first-half scorers with nine points off the bench.
The Ephs began the second half intent on erasing their mistakes in the first, which ended with the teams tied 26-26, and quickly reeled off eight straight points to take their largest lead of the day. However, Jess Korzec cut the Eph lead to one by scoring in the middle of an Anchorwomen run, and then put the Anchorwomen ahead with a jumper that made it 41-40.
After the Anchorwomen took their first lead in nearly 20 minutes with time winding down in the second half, the Ephs responded by draining six of their next seven shots to earn a lead they would not relinquish.
The biggest factor of the Ephs’ rally was Jane Thompson ’16, who came off the bench with under seven minutes to play and promptly made jump shots on three straight Eph possessions, the last a three-pointer from the corner to push the Ephs’ lead back to seven. Thompson also assisted on the Ephs’ next two baskets. The latter of these, a three-pointer from Cook, capped off a long stretch of perimeter possession for the Ephs and gave them their first double-digit lead of the day and all but sealed the victory.
“We were really happy about our two wins this weekend,” Cook said. “We had great contributions from a lot of different people.”
Results from the game yesterday at Smith came in too late to report. They host Worcester State this Friday at 6 p.m. and Babson on Saturday at 3 p.m.