POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – The Williams College Ephs (4-4, 0-1 NESCAC) jumped out to an early 11-point lead, but the Vassar College Brewers (5-2, 1-1 Liberty League) pulled away in the second half in an 81-71 win.
"Vassar played great. I give them a lot of credit – they really executed well. We just didn't get the job done defensively, and I think that was our main issue," Eph head coach Pat Manning remarked following the loss.
The Ephs started off strong and physical, scoring their first twelve points in the paint en route to an early 12-4 lead. Vassar adjusted by switching to a 2-3 zone to prevent Williams from driving inside, but the Ephs responded by hitting outside shots, headlined by a 3-pointer by senior guard Lauren Vostal. The first quarter ended with a 23-15 Williams lead.
In the second quarter, the Brewers bounced back. The offense caught fire early in the quarter, going on an 11-0 run to tie the game. Vassar's defense suffocated the Williams offense inside, forcing turnovers and low-percentage shots. As a result, the Ephs were held to just nine second-quarter points and Vassar took the halftime lead, 34-32.
The Brewers switched back to a man defense in the second half, and Williams responded with better ball movement. But the Brewers were able to continue their momentum, culminating in a buzzer-beating layup by guard Jackie Cenan to take a seven-point, 55-48 lead with a quarter to go.
Having fallen behind, the Ephs switched to a 2-3 zone to begin the fourth, but Vassar responded with a three-point shot by forward Sophie Nick, followed with a perfect jumper each from Nick and Cenan to quickly extend the lead to 12. Vassar continued to pull away, leading by as many as 18 in their most efficient quarter of the game.
After an early 26-15 deficit, Vassar went on a 56-27 run to take their 19-point lead at 72-53 with about four minutes to go.
Junior guard Emily Chang scored 11 points – including three 3-pointers – in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough for the Ephs, who gave up 26 points in the fourth and were outscored in each of the last three quarters.
Manning noticed that when the Ephs started to fall behind, they grew desperate: "When they went on a run, we panicked and started taking forced shots. We just didn't play as together as we needed to."
Sophomore guard Maggie Meehan led the Ephs in scoring with 19 points. Vostal fell one rebound short of a double-double and scored 11 points. All 11 of Chang's points came in the fourth quarter.
For the Brewers, Nick recorded a double-double with an impressive 31 points and 12 rebounds. Cenan added 15 points to go with 7 more rebounds and guard Ryan DeOrio scored 12 more.
The Ephs were simply outplayed by the Brewers, as Vassar converted a higher field-goal percentage (52.3% to 40.0%) and three-point percentage (37.5% vs. 24.0%). Williams did turn the ball over just 12 times compared to Vassar's 18, but were outrebounded 44-35, including a 14-6 margin in the fourth quarter.
"They really killed us on the boards," admitted Manning after the game.
On Saturday at 3:00PM, the Ephs take on Wesleyan at home in their second NESCAC game of the season.