WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Williams College women's basketball team (5-1) defeated Bridgewater State (1-4) 58-42 Friday night in a home non-conference matchup. The Ephs were dominant on defense, bouncing back from their first loss of the season earlier this week.
Ephs head Coach Pat Manning said that the Ephs entered tonight's game with the mid-week loss to Skidmore as a source of motivation: "We came with a different mindset because we really gave one away the other night. We just knew we had to be better." The Ephs did indeed fare better tonight, though they did get off to a slow start; Bridgewater State took an early lead on Williams, going up 10-4 on a jump shot by Destiny Fitzgerald with 5:46 remaining in the first. However, this lead did not last long, as Williams went on an 7-0 run capped by an Amanni Fernandez layup to go up 11-10 with 1:14 left. At the end of a low-scoring first quarter, Williams led 13-12.
Williams and Bridgewater traded baskets for the first few minutes of the second quarter, until Williams started to get into an offensive rhythm. Once they found their shooting stroke, Williams went on a 7-0 run to bring the score to 27-20 with 2:15 remaining in the half. After a high-scoring final few minutes of the quarter, the Ephs went into halftime up 32-26 on the Bears.
In the first half, first-year Maggie Meehan led the Ephs with seven points. Destiny Fitzgerald led Bridgewater with nine. The Ephs shot 12 of 25 (48%) from the field while the Bears shot 10 of 24 (41.7%).
The Ephs pulled away from the Bears early in the second half, scoring the first 12 points of the third to go up 44-26 with 5:57 remaining in the quarter. The Ephs' scoring slowed down in the second half of the third quarter, but they maintained their lead, going into the fourth up 48-33. The Ephs maintained their lead in the final quarter of play, outscoring the Bears 10-9 en route to a 16-point victory.
Williams played strong defense, giving up their lowest opponent point total so far this season; the Ephs allowed just 16 points in the second half. Williams also outrebounded the Bears 37 to 26. Fernandez and Kristin Fechtelkotter led the Ephs with eight boards apiece.
Coach Manning experimented with the lineup tonight and was pleased with the results; at various points, the Ephs had a smaller lineup on the floor that included the three freshmen guards Meehan, Mikaela Topper, and Gabby Martin. Coach Manning spoke highly of the three: "They play well together, and they're fast and smart." Manning went out of her way to mention Martin's defensive effort, remarking that "the pressure she put on the ball made all the difference."
It was a balanced scoring effort for Williams, with five Ephs scoring at least seven points; Topper and Fernandez led the Ephs with nine points apiece, and Meehan, Emily Chang, and Lauren Vostal each scored seven. Fitzgerald led the Bears with 15 points.
Coach Manning and the Ephs are looking forward to a 3 p.m. home game tomorrow against the University of Rochester (a team who is ranked No. 11 nationally in the WBCA Coaches Poll). Manning commented, "It's fun to have really strong competition come into the gym. We'll see what we're made of tomorrow." The Yellowjackets lost tonight to No. 2 Tufts 63-51 in their first game of the Williams Women's Basketball Holiday Classic.
Bridgewater State also returns to action tomorrow, playing against Tufts at 1 p.m. at Williams in the Williams Women's Basketball Holiday Classic.