NORTHAMPTON, MA — Even a career-night from Morgan Dauk couldn't rescue the Williams College women's basketball team Tuesday night.
The Ephs suffered a 75-61 defeat at Smith College, dropping their record to 8-10 overall heading into a conference tilt with Trinity Friday night at 7.
Dauk scored a career-high 18 points — all coming in the second half — and Gabby Martin added 14 points, but it couldn't pull the Ephs out of an 12-point halftime deficit. Smith forward Kennedy Guest-Pritchett recorded a double-double in the first half alone, racking up 17 points (including 13 of the first 15 Pioneer points) on 8-of-11 (72.7 percent) shooting and nabbed 10 rebounds. She wasn't just a force under the rim, either; five of her eight first-half makes were jump shots. Guest-Pritchett finished with a whopping 28 points and 18 rebounds, helping the Pioneers take control of the game from the opening whistle.
"We got off to a slow start and we couldn't overcome it," Ephs' head coach Pat Manning said. "Smith is an experienced team, very senior-laden, and they played that way tonight. In the first quarter they looked inside nearly every possession and were able to execute down low. We couldn't get going offensively early on."
Early on, a layup by senior guard Lexi Jones gave Williams a 4-2 lead, which turned out to be the Ephs' last lead of the game. Smith ripped off an 11-2 run directly afterward and scored 20 points – 13 by forward Kennedy Guest-Pritchett – in the first to Williams' 10. The Ephs' defense improved in the second quarter – they only gave up 10 points this time around – but the offense continued to struggle, scoring just eight in a quarter in which they shot 4 for 14 (28.6%). Three Ephs – Jones, sophomore guard Gabby Martin and junior forward Emily Peckham – scored the entirety of Williams' points in the first half, while the rest of the team combined to go 0-for-13 from the field. Still, the Ephs trailed just 30-18 at the half.
Held to just 18 points on 30% shooting in the first half, including an 0 for 5 mark from beyond the arc, the Ephs struggled out of the gate against a stout Smith defense. The offense heated up in the third – scoring 28 points, 16 from sophomore forward Dauk – but the hot streak wasn't enough against a Smith team that shot nearly 50 percent from the field and dominated the boards.
The Ephs finally hit their first three-pointer to open the third quarter, courtesy of sophomore guard Maggie Meehan. But the Pioneers answered right back, hitting two threes of their own by guards Dashelle Gleissner and Lauren Bondi. To counter Smith's offense, Williams switched to a more aggressive, pressing defense, forcing multiple turnovers with their effective trapping techniques. A 7-0 run – fueled by another Meehan three and two jumpers by Dauk – brought the deficit to nine, which is the way the third quarter ended, Smith up 55-46. The Pioneers, though, made 10 of 12 free throw attempts in the quarter.
"We went ot her (Dauk) early in the third quarter and she was phenomenal," Manning said of Dauk. "I was really happy for her, she works so hard in practice week in and week out. She really inspired our comeback, along with Gabby Martin's defense."
While the third quarter featured an offensive explosion from both teams, the fourth was a defensive battle. Bondi hit a key three with six minutes to go in the fourth, putting Smith's lead back at 12. Williams could not cut the deficit to any less than nine, as three consecutive missed lay-ups and the efficient Smith offense thwarted any hopes of a comeback. The second half was a much closer affair than the first, but it wasn't enough for the Ephs to secure a comeback win.The Ephs were able to recover from their first-half shooting woes, shooting 16 for 33 (48.5 percent) from the field in the second half after a 30% mark in the first. They won the turnover battle 17-14, and scored 28 bench points to just 5 for the Pioneers.
Smith, however, shot 25 for 51 (49.0 percent) for the entire game, grabbed 37 rebounds to Williams' 29, and made 21 free throws while the Ephs only made 5.
Dauk lit a fire under the Williams offense, scoring all of her 18 points in the second half, 16 of which came in the third quarter. She shot 6 for 9 (66.7 percent) in addition to a 2 for 3 (66.7 percent) mark from deep and a perfect 4 for 4 from the line. Gabby Martin chipped in 14 more points on 6 for 10 (60.0 percent) shooting, while three other Ephs scored at least six.