5:00 PM -- Gettysburg (24-4) vs. Babson (27-3)
7:00 PM -- Amherst (29-0) vs. Williams (20-7)
6:00 PM – Friday’s winners
Saturday’s winner will advance to the Final Four being hosted by Illinois Wesleyan University March 19 and 20..
Moments after the February 20th loss to Bates (70-63) in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament the Williams women’s basketball team locker room was not a happy place. Tears were flowing and players were consoling each other with hugs after the third seeded Ephs fell to sixth seeded Bates. The loss seemingly ended the Ephs season and left them wth a record of 18-7.
The 18-7 record was a long ways from the previous season’s final record of 7-18, but even knowing that was not enough to take away the sting of the loss to the Bobcats for the Ephs.
The Ephs were pretty convinced that they had lost their chance to play in the NCAA Tournament, but some clung to the hope that being rated 5th in New England would land them a berth in the tourney if all of the league favorites could hold on and secure conference bids.
Just over 90 minutes after the Eph men’s team won the NESCAC title in Chandler Gym the Eph women assembled for a practice and no one minded that one of the nets had been cut down.
|Taylor Shea '11|
Hopeful, but not confident of receiving a bid to the NCAA Tournament, the team gathered in the basketball offices on Monday March 1st to watch the NCAA selection show. The Ephs did not have to wait long to learn their fate. “As soon as I saw Southern Maine [ranked behind Williams] get in, I knew we were in,” said Eph head coach Pat Manning. Moments later it was announced that Manning had secured her fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament and the Ephs would be heading to Ithaca [NY] College to play Mount Saint Mary‘s College (NY).
It was not really discernible what the sound was that boomed from the hearts and throats of the Ephs when they were selected, but it was loud and there was a renewed energy in that room that showed this team was excited to have their season extended.
“I felt we had some unfinished business left when we lost to Bates and I think the kids have felt that this is a second chance to show what they can do and they are going after it,” said Manning.
The young Ephs, just one senior on the roster, and no NCAA experience would be playing a team in Mount Saint Mary’s that was making its 11th straight appearance.
Playing a Mount Saint Mary’s with a wealth of NCAA experience, Manning and her staff decided not to make a big deal of it. “We just treated it like any other game,” noted Manning. “The angle was we now have an opportunity to show what we can do, so we focused on our team and stressed consistency. We were inconsistent against Bates and we needed to correct that.”
“We played a great first half vs. Mount Saint Mary’s on both ends of the floor, but did not play all that well in the second half,” said Manning, but you can be sure she would not give back the 62-56 Eph win.
The Ephs shot 45% from the floor in the first half and built a 12 point lead over Mount Saint Mary’s, but cold shooting and turnovers allowed for a more exciting second half and the six point margin of victory. Sophomore point guard Jill Greenberg led the way with 16 points. Joining Greenberg in double figures was first year Jennie Harding (13), junior Chessie Jackson (12) and first year Claire Baecher (10). Junior Taylor Shea dominated the glass snaring a game-high 14 rebounds.
|Chessie Jackson '11|
Facing a very good DeSales team in the Second Round Manning knew that her Ephs would need to play well in both halves to win. “DeSales is really good and they play great defense,” stated Manning. However, the Ephs were up to the task building a 10 point lead at the half, 43-33. “It was a great game for us on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes,” noted Manning. “We had five players in double figures and the ball was really moving on offense. We made good decisions with the ball and when we do that we have a lot of scoring options. “ Williams downed DeSales 94-77 to advance to the Sweet 16.
Taylor Shea led the quintet of Ephs in double figures with 24 on 7-8 shooting from the floor and 10-10 from the charity stripe. Chessie Jackson added 23, first year Grace Rehnquist 17, Claire Baecher 12 and Jill Greenberg had 10. The Ephs won the battle of the boards 40-28 with guard Jennie Harding grabbing a game-high 9.
Williams has lost twice to Amherst this season so there are no secrets about what to expect even in the strange confines of Amherst’s LeFrak Gymnasium. The Ephs will need no motivational talk from Manning for this game what with Amherst being the archrival, undefeated and ranked first in the nation.
“The focus is on consistency – that’s our biggest goal for Friday,” said Manning. “We need to play two strong halves at both ends of the court and take care of the basketball.”