Women’s basketball (17-5, 5-3 in the NESCAC) showed great resiliency against No. 4 Tufts last Saturday, but ultimately failed to pull out a win, falling 54-50. The previous night, Williams put on their most dominant team performance of the season with a 71-37 rout against Bates. “The game against Tufts was the best we played all season,” head coach Pat Manning said. “It really gave us momentum for the rest of the season.” Against Tufts on senior day, co-captain Kellie Macdonald ’15 provided the biggest spark in the first half with a difficult layup that drew a foul. Macdonald sank the foul shot, and then nailed a jump shot a minute later to put the Ephs up by six. After that flurry of excitement, strong defensive play held both teams scoreless for a span of almost 10 minutes. By the end of the first half, Williams had eked out a 23-16 lead against one of the top offenses in the NESCAC.
The Ephs could not maintain the same defensive success in the second half, however, as the Jumbos scored the first eight points of the half to reclaim the lead. After trading baskets with Williams, Tufts completed an 18-3 run that put them up by eight points with 11:52 to go. Co-captain Ellen Cook ’15 energized the Ephs with a steal, taking the ball down the court to sink a layup and a free throw. On the very next possession, Cook netted another steal and Macdonald found Cook behind the arc for a three-pointer to bring the Ephs within two points. The Jumbos stretched their lead back to double digits, but Cook again rallied the Ephs with a pair of critical three-pointers. With just under two minutes to go, Katie Litman ’16 recovered one of her 15 rebounds of the game and Macdonald completed a layup to give the Ephs a 48-47 lead. Tufts responded by making just enough free throws to take the lead.
Williams had no response, and in the end, lost 54-50 to the defending conference champions. “Cook and Macdonald have been consistent and they have been leading the way,” said Manning. Last Friday, Williams took advantage of several early turnovers by Bates to get a nine-point lead just eight minutes into the game. While Bates struggled to close the gap, Devon Caveney ’17, Mary Kate O’Brien ’16 and Jane Thompson ’16 each sank three-point shots that helped give Williams a 28-10 lead with six minutes left in the half. Amanni Fernandez ’18 guided the Ephs through the rest of the half, collecting steals and contributing two assists to put Williams up by 15 points at halftime. In the second half, several Ephs stepped up to erase any hope of a Bobcats comeback. Lydia Zaleski ’18 and Elise Testa ’17 led the Ephs on offense in the second half, combining for 14 points in the final six minutes of the game, leading to a 71-37 victory against the Bobcats. On Jan. 30, Williams travelled to face conference foe Middlebury. The Ephs slowly built a five-point lead, sparked by a three-pointer by Lauren McCall ’17 and came out strong during the second half by scoring the first twelve points of the half. Cook and Fernandez sank their free throws to clinch a 67-52 victory.
Williams only made two of its first 11 shots to open its game against Hamilton on Jan. 24, leading to a 10-4 deficit in the opening minutes. Although Williams never trailed in the second half, with 12 minutes left the game remained tied at 35-35. The Ephs pulled ahead due to their defensive prowess, holding Hamilton scoreless from the field for the next ten minutes. Five different Ephs added baskets, and a Macdonald layup put the Ephs up by double digits. Williams held on with free throws down the stretch to clinch a 53-44 win. On Jan. 21, Williams hosted Amherst in a fierce NESCAC rivaly matchup. The women’s defense kept the score within five with four minutes to play in the first half, but by halftime Williams trailed by 12 and could not overcome its double-digit deficit as it fell 65-51 to Amherst. Williams will face Conn. College on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by their final regular season match against Wesleyan at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Williams has already clinched a spot in the NESCAC championship, but the winner of Friday’s game against Conn. College will claim the fourth seed and a home match in the opening round of the tournament.