CASTLETON, Vermont – In their first game of 2018, the Williams College women's basketball team (8-4) beat Castleton (9-1) 72-62 Tuesday night in non-conference action, handing the Spartans their first loss of the season.
Williams took a 3-0 lead on the Spartans right away, with Mikaela Topper hitting a three-point shot on the team's first possession of the game. The Ephs built upon this lead throughout the first quarter, going up by as many as eight at various points. Williams led Castleton 17-9 going into the second.
The Ephs continued to build their lead in the beginning of the second quarter, and an Emily Peckham free throw with 6:31 remaining gave them their biggest lead yet at 25-11. However, momentum seemed to shift towards the end of the period as the Spartans started to come back on the Ephs. A Brooke Raiche free throw with 1:31 remaining brought the Williams lead down to just five points (29-24).
Williams led Castleton 32-26 at halftime. In the first half, Topper led the Ephs with eight points and Emilee Bose led Castleton with 12.
In the third quarter, the Spartans drove the Williams lead down to three on a Makayla Farrara jump shot with 8:24 remaining. After this, the two teams traded baskets for the rest of the period, with Williams ultimately leading 46-42 heading into the game's final period.
Castleton went on a 7-0 run to start the fourth to take their first lead of the night. The Spartans went up 49-46 on a layup with 8:36 remaining. Castleton ended up going up by as much as five points with 6:01 remaining (58-53) but the Ephs battled back. Behind a trio of three pointers by Emily Chang and strong free throw shooting by Amanni Fernandez and Gabby Martin, the Ephs dominated the game's final minutes, going on to win by ten points.
Fernandez, who has been leading the Ephs with 14.6 points per game this season, was the team's top scorer with 17 points. Williams head coach Pat Manning praised the strong performance from her captain, noting that "Amanni did a great job running the show tonight."
Chang (14 points) also led the Ephs, scoring all of her points in the second half. Manning praised Chang's play, indicating that "Emily caught fire when we needed her the most."
Bose led Castleton, scoring 16 points on the night. Amanda Beatty (12 points) and Alexis Quenneville (11 points) also contributed for the Spartans.
After losing a few close games this season, coach Manning was proud of her team's ability to get the win against an experienced Castleton team: "This was a great learning experience for us."
On Friday, January 5th at 7 p.m. Williams will host Wesleyan, looking to avenge an overtime road loss to the Cardinals earlier this season. The matchup will be the first NESCAC game of the season for Williams. Castleton plays at Lyndon State at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 6th.