Ephs' comeback falls short in 64-59 loss to Whitman on West Coast

Ephs' comeback falls short in 64-59 loss to Whitman on West Coast

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- A fourth-quarter comeback fell short for the Williams College women's basketball team Thursday night, and the Ephs suffered a 64-59 loss at the hands of Whitman College in a game played at the University of Cruz as part of the UCSC December Classic. 

Williams sophomore Maggie Meehan led all scorers with 19 points, but the Ephs saw their season record slip to 5-5. Williams will play host UC-Santa Cruz Friday at 9 p.m. (EST). The Blues improved to 7-3 on the season after receiving 13 points from Brittaney Van buren and 12 points each from Mady Burdett and Makana Stone. Van buren came off the bench to post a double-double, adding 10 rebounds to her 13 points.

"Whitman's a really good team, and I think we didn't handle the ball as well as we needed to when they put their press on," Ephs head coach Pat Manning said. "We made some poor decisions that resulted in turnovers and some forced shots. We know we can play better than we did tonight, so we need to regroup quickly and be prepared for Santa Cruz tomorrow night."

The Ephs trailed by two after one quarter and four at the halftime break, but Whitman came out strong in the third quarter, outscoring Williams 16-8 to build a 12-point advantage. The third of Burdett's three three-pointers came with 8:41 remaining in the contest and put the Ephs in a 15-point hole. 

Williams responded with a 15-5 run that allowed them to get as close as five points with 2:33 left in the game. Meehan sparked the run with a pair of frees throws — she finished 7 of 7 from the line — and Katie Brule followed with a short jumper. 

After a costly turnover allowed the Blues to regain a 13-point edge. Emily Chang hit a step back trey from the top of the key to make it 53-43 with 6:02 remaining. After a Blue answered, Meehan drove the lane and was fouled, completing a three-point play that made it a 55-46 game. 

Two free throws from Gabby Martin made it 55-48, and after a Whitman three throw, Chang hit her second three of the quarter to make it 56-51 with 2:33 left. However, Stone grabbed a key offensive rebound and scored the putback for a seven-point lead. Two more freebies from Meehan made it a 5-point game again, but Stone came up with a key block and then a steal that led to a free throw and a 59-53 lead. 

After Chang missed a three attempt, Burdett did not, connecting with 46 seconds left to make it 62-53. That was the dagger for Whitman and the Blue held on for the five-point win. 

Some of the key stats were Whitman's 48-37 advantage on the glass, and its 41.2 percent (7 of 17) shooting from beyond the three. The Ephs hit just 3 of their first 17 three-pointers on the night and finished 5 of 21 (23.8 percent) from outside the three. 

"I was proud of our effort," Manning said. "Coming back the way we did was impressive. I thought Maddy Mandyck (4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks) came off the bench and asserted herself well. But overall, I think we hurt ourselves at key moments in the game. We dug ourselves too big a hole to get out of."

 Martin finished with seven points, four rebounds and two assists for the Ephs. Brule had a team-high nine rebounds.