WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - A high-pressure defense from the Williams College women's basketball team (8-7/2-2 NESCAC) caused the Bates College Bobcats (5-7/1-3 NESCAC) problems and enabled the Ephs to post a 77-42 win.
"Everybody was focused," asserted head coach Pat Manning. "First half, we struggled with scoring, but [in the third quarter] we just made better decisions with the ball."
Sophomore Maggie Meehan hit for a season best 22 points and was the overall top scorer. Williams also boasted the top rebounders, with Lauren Vostal and Gabby Martin bagging seven apiece. Melanie Binkhorst added 14 points for the Bobcats along with six rebounds.
Senior co-captain Lauren Vostal began the game with points from the paint, putting Williams into a lead that they would hold well into the second period. The Eph's high-pressure defense caused the Bobcats to make three turnovers within the first five minutes, putting them well behind on points in the first quarter. Ariana Dalia of Bates would be the first Bobcat to score, with Meghan Graff contributing another four points. However, the Bobcats would end up down by seven at the end of the first quarter.
Taken aback by their low-scoring first period, the Bates defense tightened up in the rest of the half to cut Williams' scoring by almost half that of the previous quarter. Climbing determinedly back into the lead, Bates would go on to out score the Ephs by four in the last part of the half. However, Williams' scoring from early in the game put them in a competitive position despite their lapse in scoring in the second quarter. With two lead changes in the last three minutes and then a layup from the Bobcats' Mia Roy, it looked like the teams would tie at the half. Emily Chang of Williams had other ideas: her last-second three-pointer would put Williams up over Bates 26-22 at the break.
Meehan set the tone for the second half with an early three-pointer, and that was followed by Williams scoring five times in a row. In response, Bates called a full time-out, but was unable to stop the momentum of the Ephs, as Katie Brule '20 made a layup less than a minute after play resumed. Just as it appeared that Bates would not be able to crack the Eph's defense, first-year Amaari Williams sunk a layup for the Bobcats. More drama ensued, with Ariana Dalia of Bates stealing the ball from Chang of Williams mid-pass, who proceeded to immediately steal it back and score. A bright spot for the Bobcats was a solid steal and breakaway by junior Melanie Binkhorst, who took Williams' defense by surprise and scored on an unguarded net.
The fourth quarter began with Williams holding a 33-point lead, with Bates hoping to cut the deficit down as much as possible in the remaining minutes. Binkhorst of the Bobcats put up seven points from the paint, but Williams' fantastic third quarter was too much to overcome. The Ephs ran out the clock, winning 77-42..
On the upcoming game against Amherst College, Manning stated: "They're two-time defending national champions, so we have to keep our composure. We've gotta play for who's on our jersey and not worry about what's on theirs. We'll be ready to go on Wednesday."
The Ephs will host the Amherst College Mammoths next Wednesday night at 7:00 PM.