Williams defeats Wesleyan 69-64 in first NESCAC game of season

Lexi Jones '19
Lexi Jones '19

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass – The Williams College women's basketball team (9-4, 1-0 NESCAC) defeated Wesleyan University (8-3, 0-1 NESCAC) 69-64 in a home conference game on Friday night. In their second straight come-from-behind victory, the Ephs avenged an overtime loss to the Cardinals earlier in the season.

Williams jumped out to an early first quarter lead. A Lydia Zaleski layup with 5:35 remaining in the quarter put the Ephs up 8-0 on the visiting Cardinals. After Wesleyan brought the Williams lead down to just 10-8, Williams again pulled ahead. An Emily Chang three-pointer in the final minute of the first quarter put the Ephs up 15-8 going into the second.

An Amanni Fernandez three-pointer with 7:48 remaining in the second quarter extended the Williams lead to 22-11. The Ephs continued to grow this lead throughout the quarter, bringing it to as much as 19 points (34-15) on a three by Emily Chang with 3:29 remaining. At the end of this dominant first half, Williams led Wesleyan 39-25.

Kristin Fechtelkotter led the Ephs with ten points in the first half, and Chang scored nine points on 3 of 3 three-point shooting. Wesleyan was led by Olivia Gorman and Maddie Bledsoe, who each scored six.

In the third quarter, the Cardinals immediately began to chip away at the Williams lead. A Maeve Vitale layup with 7:26 remaining in the quarter put the Cardinals down just six points (41-35), and a Tara Berger jump shot with 3:09 remaining gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 47-46. Although the Cardinals extended this lead to as much as five (51-46), Williams scored a pair of baskets to go into the fourth quarter down just 51-50.

With 6:32 remaining in the game, Williams retook the lead (57-56) on a layup by Fechtelkotter. After the two teams traded baskets for a few minutes, a traditional three-point play by Lauren Vostal with 2:25 remaining gave the Ephs a great deal of momentum, putting them up 66-61. Wesleyan brought the game to 66-64 on a Gorman free throw with 29 seconds remaining, but Williams would not let it get closer than this. Two clutch free-throws by Fernandez with 26 seconds remaining put the game out of reach, leading the Ephs to the five-point win. 

Vostal took over for the Ephs at the end of the game, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter including the big three-point play. Along with her 15 points for the game, Vostal had ten rebounds, giving her a double-double. Williams head coach Pat Manning remarked on Vostal's performance: "I think that Lauren Vostal was tremendous midway through the third and throughout the fourth."

Along with Vostal, Fernandez also led the Ephs with 15 points, and Fechtelkotter scored 13. Manning noted that a handful of other players stepped up for her team tonight: "Gabby Martin came in and really lifted our energy, and Lexi Jones did a lot defensively."

Gorman paced Wesleyan with a game-high 20 points and Berger scored 15.

The two teams were evenly matched in nearly every statistical category. Williams shot 43.1% (25-58) from the field, and Wesleyan shot 43.4% (23-53). Williams outrebounded the Cardinals 38-36.

Coach Manning was immensely proud of her team's ability to pull out a win in such a close game, especially agaist a team that they had lost to earlier on in the season, noting, "you can really see the growth in our team."

Williams will host Connecticut College tomorrow (Saturday, January 5th) at 3 p.m. while Wesleyan plays tomorrow at Middlebury at 3 p.m.

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