ITHACA, N.Y. –Williams women’s basketball (20-7) overpowered DeSales (19-10) in a strong second half performance of a second round NCAA tournament match up, 94-77. Juniors Taylor Shea and Chessie Jackson led the Ephs’ offensive effort with 24 and 23 points, respectively, in a night in which five Williams players scored in double figures.
“It was one of those big nights for us,” said Williams head coach Pat Manning.. “It was our best game of the year for us on both ends of the floor and was a great effort. Defensively we dominated on the boards. Overall, what I was really happy about was we played aggressive defense. They come out at you, and we stayed composed and handled their press well.”
DeSales advanced to the second round in a win over regional host Ithaca College last night, 62-53, while Williams reached today’s second round contest with a victory over Mount St. Mary’s, 62-56. The Ephs will play in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006.
“I am just so thrilled for this team,” continued Manning. “I really felt like this team had a lot of potential and just two weeks ago we didn’t know if we could show it. I felt like two weeks ago we had unfinished business, and we are thrilled with this opportunity. Our team is definitely making the best of this.”
The Ephs opened the game with a bang, taking a 19-4 lead and keeping the Bulldogs off of the scoreboard for nearly seven minutes. DeSales was able to make a run and came within five of the lead at two points in the first half, but Williams dominated in the closing minutes of the half to take a ten-point lead at the break.
“We have put together some good first halves, and then not followed up in the second half,” said Manning. “But today we stressed at half time to really come out and play well in the second half, and we did that, and was able to come out with a great team win.”
Williams shot 57.1% from the floor, and out rebounded their opponents, 40-28—dominant on both ends of the floor. The Bulldogs did not come within single digits of the lead in the final 18:45.
Grace Rehnquist added 17 points off the bench, while starters Claire Baecher and Jill Greenberg added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Jennie Harding grabbed 9 boards, while Shea was an impressive 10-for-10 from the charity stripe.
Cherelle Simmons scored a team-high 19 points for the Bulldogs. Lori Lidlow followed with 16 points, and Colleen Gavin added fifteen.
Williams will face off against conference foe and archrival Amherst on Friday, March 12 in the Round of 16. Amherst is ranked number one in the country, and sports a perfect 29-0 record. The Lord Jeffs have come out on top in both regular season contests against the Ephs, defeating Williams on January 9 and February 12 by twenty-four point margins in each game.
“We have to put together two good halves,” said Manning, in regards to the upcoming Amherst game. “We haven’t done that either time we played them. Right now, we are not thinking about them too much, but we’ll get back to it tomorrow and put together a game plan. Consistency is our biggest thing, and we need to put together a solid 40 minutes.”