Women’s basketball (17-5, 6-5 in the NESCAC) overcame a double digit third quarter deficit en route to a 64-59 victory over the nationally ranked Conn. College Camels on Sunday, their second conference victory of the weekend. Amanni Fernandez ’18 led in scoring for the women by racking up 27 points and four assists in the win, but co-captains Katie Litman ’16 and Oge Uwanaka ’16 were the true spark of the Ephs’ success.
“It was a thrilling of weekend of basketball in Chandler for sure with two come-from-behind NESCAC victories,” Head Coach Pat Manning said. “It was definitely a Senior Day to remember for Litman and Uwanaka. They were a major force for us and each came up big in the fourth quarter of the Conn. game.”
The Camels controlled play in the early going, jumping out to a 10-4 lead at the 6:44 mark in the first quarter after Willa McKinley hit her first of three three-point shots. A smooth offensive performance for the Camels yielded a 19-12 lead at the buzzer.
The Ephs gained some ground in the second quarter behind Fernandez, who controlled the game beautifully as point guard. There was a stretch of nine straight Eph points that Fernandez either scored or assisted on, the lone assist coming when Devon Caveney ’17 connected on a trey.
While the Eph offense got on rhythm, the team’s defense forced the Camels out of the flow they had been in the first quarter, holding the visitors to 10 points.
Conn. opened the second half on a 9-3 run capped off by a three-pointer that forced Manning to use one of her full timeouts. The women went on to close the third quarter on a long run of their own, outscoring the Camels 14-5 over the final 7:24 of the period to head into the last quarter with a 43-42 lead.
The Ephs and the Camels went back and forth in the final quarter, with players from both teams making big plays when they counted the most. The Ephs first pulled level with the Camels with seven minutes to play when Fernandez nailed another three-pointer to even up the score at 49 apiece. Free-throw shooting proved to be the difference in the game down the stretch after Malman fouled Fernandez to put the women into the bonus. Fernandez would make four free throws in the closing minutes of the game while Uwanaka connected on two of four attempts.
On Friday night, Fernandez hit two free throws that broke a 63-63 tie with three seconds left, the pair of which proved to be the deciding two points in the Ephs’ 65-63 victory over the Wesleyan Cardinals at home. The comeback win for the Ephs extended their current win streak over the Cardinals to 16.
Five Ephs, including Fernandez, hit double figures in scoring in a game where points were at a premium down the stretch. The Cardinals came into the fourth quarter up by 10 points after putting on a three point shooting display in the third quarter behind Danielle Gervacio, who led the Cardinals with 17 points.
The women trailed through most of the game before equalizing and taking the lead with clutch free-throw shooting in the final stages of the fourth quarter, letting belief in their abilities guide them in crafting a comeback.
The Ephs finally put the score within one possession at the 3:39 mark when Caveney connected on a layup. The teams went back and forth before Litman, who scored eight points in the final quarter, hit a jump shot that brought the Ephs within one point. Then, Kristin Fechtelkotter ’18 was sent to the line, connecting on one of two to tie the game. Fernandez then came up with a big steal during the Cardinals’ next possession, after which she was also fouled and sent to the line with three seconds remaining, sealing the win for the Ephs.
“Fernandez was key as well, hitting big shots and coming up with steals down the stretch of both games. Kristin Fechtelkotter made a tremendous impact off the bench on both ends of the court. Overall a great team effort,” added Manning.
Before the important NESCAC victories against Conn. and Wesleyan, the women triumphed in two non-conference away tilts against Westfield and Bridgewater. On Feb. 1, the Ephs routed the Westfield Owls 89-68 with Caveney pacing the team with a game-high 31 points. On Jan. 30, the women took a tight defensive affair 61-52 against Bridgewater State, withstanding a late charge from the home team.
The women will go on the road next weekend to close out their regular season schedule, playing important games against Tufts and Bates that will have a huge impact on potential seeding for the NESCAC tournament.
Williams currently sits in a three-way tie for fourth along with Colby and Conn., who are all just one game behind Bowdoin for the third seed. A matchup with No. 8 Tufts, currently the top performing team in the NESAC, on Friday at 7 p.m. will be the first of their two games.