WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - The Williams College women's basketball team (3-3) suffered their third loss of the season today by a score of 67-41 to Tufts University in the championship game of the Williams Holiday Classic. Tufts (6-0), ranked sixth in the country, won all previous five games this season by double digits. A solid defensive effort from Tufts and costly misplaced shots from Williams were consistent themes throughout the game, as the Ephs struggled to find holes in the Jumbo's defense and were often forced into tough positions.
"Tufts plays great defense, that's what they're known for, and we didn't respond well to it," said head coach Pat Manning. "I think we panicked; we didn't play with poise, and against a really good team like that, you have to play with poise."
For the Ephs, Maggie Meehan '21 was the top scorer, netting 14 points for her team. Katie Brule '20 (11 points, seven rebounds) and senior co-captain Lauren Vostal (five points, 10 rebounds) were also standouts for Williams. Jac Knapp of the Jumbos shone in scoring on her team, sinking 18 points for the Jumbos. She was followed by Emily Briggs (11 points, five rebounds) and Erica DeCandido (eight points, six rebounds).
As the ball came down from the tip-off, it was clear that this would be a high-energy game from both teams. The first quarter was optimistic for Williams, as even though Tufts gained five points right off the bat, the Ephs kept pace and matched Tufts in rebounds. However, the Jumbos locked up the ball quickly, as Briggs took advantage of the Jumbo's defense to score and shot 55.6% over the first half. Tufts took a slight lead halfway through the first period and maintained their distance in scoring throughout the rest of the quarter, ending up 17-13 over Williams.
The Jumbos really picked up the pace in the second period, out-rebounding the Ephs slightly and building up a consistent 10-point lead. Meehan pushed back, scoring four points for the Ephs, but the team was still heavily outscored for the rest of the half, which ended with Tufts on top 32-20.
Erica DeCandido of the Jumbos picked up an early layup in the second half, but heralded an almost three-minute break in scoring for both teams. The dry spell was broken by Tuft's Cailin Harrington, who sunk a jump shot to signal an end to the drought. Brule responded to the challenge, scoring four points for the Ephs and getting momentum going for the Williams team. Williams managed to out-rebound Tufts in the third period, but once again fell short on scoring, as the teams went into the fourth quarter with Tufts up 53-29.
Williams played their most competitive quarter in the fourth period, only scoring two points under Tufts. Meehan and first-year Maddy Mandyck bagged four points apiece to contribute to the Eph's total of 12. Tufts countered with scattered shots from across the bench, using effective coordination to once again out-rebound the Ephs and pick up 14 more points, increasing their lead to 67-41 by the end of the game.
"We just gotta get back to basics and make better decisions," asserted Manning. "This is a window into what conference play is like and it'll be good for us down the line. We play a very challenging schedule—it'll help us going forward."
The Ephs will play at MCLA on Tuesday, December 4th at 5:00 PM.