WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams women's basketball team opened the season with a 56-53 win today over Whitman (0-1). The two teams faced off in the Williams Tournament, which includes Tufts and Babson as well. The Ephs find themselves at 1-0 to start the year.
The two teams were evenly matched from the opening moments of the game.
The Missionaries were the first to take control. With Whitman up 9-8, Jenele Peterson made a lay-up to push the lead to three. A couple possessions later, she stole the ball and took it the length of the court for two. On the next possession, Jennifer Keyes hit a 3-pointer from the right side to put them up 16-8 and force an Eph timeout.
The Ephs and Missionaries then traded baskets until the final two-and-a-half minutes when the Ephs were able to seize the lead. Danny Rainer hit a two, and Baecher added another bucket on a drive to the hoop. She was fouled on the play but was unable to convert the free throw. The basket, however, gave the Ephs their first lead since the opening minutes.
Neither team was able to score in the final minute of the half, and the Ephs went into the locker room with the 21-20 lead.
Said Coach Manning after the game about what led to her team's run in the first, "I thought Claire Baecher took the game over … and Danny Rainer too. Both of them inside, both offensively and defensively, just played with such calm[ness] and poise, I think that's when our run started, and when we started to calm down. "
The second half opened with five straight points from Baecher including a beautiful long ball from the top-of-the-key. Rainer then backed down her defender in the paint to push the Ephs' run to 7-0. After the Missionaries responded with some points of their own, Jill Greenberg made a perfect pass to Rainer, who was cutting back door, and then drove to the hoop on the next Eph possession to push the lead to 34-24 and force a Missionary timeout.
Out of the timeout, Peterson put the Missionaries on her shoulders as she scored six straight points for Whitman in three different ways: a drive to the hoop, a pull-up jumper, and a spin move. Although the Ephs responded, Keyes hit a shot from outside the arc to cut the lead to 38-33 with just over 12 minutes to play.
The two teams traded baskets for much of the rest of the half, but the Ephs were able to hold Whitman at bay until the closing minutes. With 1:42, Baecher made both of a one-and-one opportunity to push the Eph lead to four at 54-50. Sarah Anderegg, however, responded with a huge hoop for the Missionaries. She made a lay-up and was fouled on the play. She converted the free throw opportunity as well. Up just one point, Greenberg found herself at the line for the Ephs. She hit two big free throws to end the game.
Peterson led the way for the Missionaries with 18 points. No other Whitman player was in double digits. The team shot 30.6% on the night.
Leading the way for the Ephs tonight was Baecher with 21 points. Rainer followed Baecher with 14 points of her own. Greenberg posted a double double for the Ephs with 13 points and ten rebounds. The Ephs shot 44.9% from the field in the game.
Manning added about how proud she was of her entire team: "The thing that I was happiest about is that we kept our cool even when things weren't going out way. We were struggling a little bit and fouling a little too much, but we didn't get flustered and there was mental toughness."
Adding about Whitman, she said, "We knew this tournament is the type of tournament that we could see in March in the postseason. Whitman, Babson, and Tufts, are all quality teams. We knew we were going to be tested right away. We felt like we were ready for it. We were definitely tested tonight. Whitman is a very good team."
The tournament continues tomorrow with a matchup between Whitman and Tufts at 1:00 followed by the Williams-Babson game at 3:00. Below are details from tonight's second matchup between Babson and Tufts.
Babson (1-0) rallied to beat Tufts (0-1) 73-64 tonight.
Although the game started off evenly matched, the Jumbos began to pull away in the final ten minutes of the first half. When Kate Barnosky made a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to push the Jumbo lead to 29-20 with 6:50 to play, Babson was forced to call a timeout.
The Beavers were unable to score out of the timeout, but Barnosky missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Babson got the ball back. Kathleen King knocked down a shot from the right baseline, and Erin Young hit a long ball from the top left to cut the lead to four. Collier Clegg, however, responded with a three of her own on the next Jumbo possession to push the lead back to seven.
With under a minute to play, Tiffany Kornegay got her own rebound and finished a layup for Tufts. Babson was unable to convert on their final possession of the half, and the Jumbos went into the locker room with the 39-30 lead.
Out of the break, Babson was aggressive offensively and rallied back from the nine-point deficit. After the Jumbos pushed the lead to 45-38 with just over 15 minutes to play, the Beavers started their run. Young nailed two three-pointers in a row to cut the lead to one. After Liz Moynihan went one-for-two from the line to push the lead back to two for the Jumbos, King made a layup for the Beavers to tie the game up at 46.
The two teams traded hoops until Babson pulled away in the final 3:42 behind seven points – three layups and a free throw – from Nicki Wurdeman.
Wurdeman had a double double for the Beavers with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Sarah Collins also posted a double double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. King added 19 points for Babson. The Beavers were 44% from the field.
Leading the way for the Jumbos was Kornegay with 17 points. Kelsey Morehead added 15. Tufts shot 32% on the night.