Women’s basketball (19-5, 7-3 in the NESCAC) finished the regular season on a high note last Saturday with a 77-61 victory over Wesleyan. Last Friday, Williams clinched a home game in the opening round of the NESCAC championships with a 78-69 win against Conn. College.
“This was a terrific weekend,” Head Coach Pat Manning comented. “Back-to-back NESCAC wins was something that we hadn’t done in a while.”
The Ephs’ offense came out firing during last Saturday’s game against the Cardinals. Co-captain Ellen Cook ’15 and co-captain Kellie Macdonald ’15 led Williams to an 8-2 lead to start the game while Kristin Fechtelkotter ’18 came off the bench to score six consecutive points from the field.
While the women’s offense continued to put pressure on Wesleyan, the women struggled to keep up defensively early in the game. The Cardinals out-rebounded the Ephs’ defense 29-15 in the first half, which prevented the Ephs from gaining a lead larger than seven points through much of the half. The women gained some separation with three-pointers from Cook and Devon Caveney ’17 that put them up 32-23, but the Ephs’ lead was trimmed to five points by halftime.
While Williams remained ahead in the second half, the women again struggled to extend their lead into the double digits. Cook, however, broke through for the Ephs with a pair of three-pointers, each time putting the Ephs up by 12 with just over ten minutes left to play. Although Wesleyan closed the gap to 65-59 with 4:22 left in the game, the women’s defense held Wesleyan scoreless until the closing seconds. Cook made three unanswered layups to put the game away for the Ephs and her 33-point effort tied a career best. Fechtelkotter also earned a career-high 11 points in the Ephs’ 77-61 victory.
“Ellen [Cook] just took the game over- she was unstoppable down the stretch,” Manning said.
Last Friday, Williams travelled to Conn. College with a home playoff game on the line for both teams. Neither team could pull ahead by more than a basket in the opening minutes until Conn. College eked out an 18-13 lead midway through the first half. The Williams bench stepped up to steal the lead away, with Lauren McCall ’17 and Jane Thompson ’16 draining pivotal three-pointers. Just a couple minutes later, Cook and Caveney contributed with shots from behind the arc to give the Ephs a small margin that they would hold on to for the rest of the half.
Coming out of halftime with a slim lead, Williams went on a 12-4 run to pull ahead by twelve points. While the Ephs tried to maintain separation, a six-minute scoring drought brought the Camels back into contention. With six minutes to play and a 59-57 lead, Williams rallied with the help of two three-pointers by McCall to reclaim a double-digit lead. The Ephs sank their free-throw opportunities to close out a 78-69 road win.
“We put together really solid back-to-back games,” Manning said. “To put together two consecutive road wins is a huge accomplishment.”
With the wins, the women earned the No. 4 seed for the upcoming NESCAC tournament and a first-round game at home. “We would love for everyone to come out and cheer us on,” Manning said about the upcoming game. “It means a lot for us to have students and classmates cheering us on, and it makes a big difference.”
Williams will play in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament against Conn. College at Chandler Gymnasium on Saturday at 3 p.m.