The Williams College women's basketball team's (5-2) late-game comeback fell short as they were defeated by No. 9 (per the D3Hoops.com poll) University of Rochester (6-1) 70-61 at home on Saturday afternoon. This was the Ephs' first matchup against a ranked opponent this season.
The Ephs had a strong first quarter against the visiting Yellowjackets. The two teams traded baskets early on in the first quarter. Midway through the period, the Ephs jumped out to a lead; a basket by Emily Peckham put Williams up 13-7 with 4:17 remaining. The Ephs led 19-15 after one.
In the second quarter, the Yellowjackets took a 21-19 lead right away after Lizzy Atkinson hit back-to-back three-pointers in the first minute. A three-pointer by Lauren Foley stretched the Yellowjackets' lead, putting them up 30-21 with 5:41 remaining. All in all, Rochester dominated the second quarter, outscoring Williams 25-10.
Williams trailed Rochester 40-29 at halftime. The Ephs shot 13 of 31 (41.9%) from the field in the first half, while the Yellowjackets shot 17 of 29 (58.6%).
The Yellowjackets built their lead at the beginning of the third, going up by as many as 18 points on a Mary Kronenwetter jumpshot with 5:06 remaining. However, the Ephs stormed back; a Kristin Fechtelkotter jump shot brought the game to 52-40 with 3:41 remaining, and Maggie Meehan hit a three at the buzzer to put the game at 52-45 going into the fourth.
The Ephs stayed close in the beginning of the fourth, and a pair of free throws by Mikaela Topper put them down just 56-52 with 4:24 remaining. This was as close as the Ephs would get, as they could never fully come back from Rochester's big second quarter; on their way to a 9-point victory, the Yellowjackets outscored the Ephs 14-9 from here on out.
Alexandra Leslie, who has been named an All-American the past two seasons, led the Yellowjackets with 17 points, including seven in the game's final quarter. Williams head coach Pat Manning commented on Leslie and her impact on rebounding, "I thought we did a great job on [Leslie] in the first half but she came alive in the second. We just didn't control the boards the way we did in the first half." Leslie had eight rebounds, as her team outrebounded Williams 36-29.
Fernandez led the Ephs with 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Topper (13 points) and Meehan (9 points) also contributed for Williams. The Ephs shot 24 of 54 (44.4%) from the field, including 3 of 6 (50%) from three-point range. Rochester shot 29 of 63 (46%) from the field, and 6 of 17 (35.3%) from beyond the arc.
Despite the loss, Coach Manning was pleased with her team's ability to come back from an 18-point defecit against a highly ranked team. Particularly, she views this game as an excellent learning experience moving forward, "I think this was a great game to gauge where we are and to help prepare us for conference play. I was encouraged by a lot of what I saw."
Williams returns to action on Tuesday, December 5th with a 7 p.m. home matchup against Eastern Connecticut State, while Rochester hosts St. John Fisher at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 7th.