MIDDLETOWN, CT – In their first Little Three matchup of the season against the Wesleyan Cardinals (6-2, 0-1 Little Three), the Williams Ephs (6-0, 1-0 Little Three) extended their winning streak to six in a strong, 68-49 effort against a formidable opponent.
Whereas Emily Chang '20 and Gabby Martin '21 starred in the Ephs' previous victory over Springfield, forwards Emily Peckham '20 and Katie Brule '20, along with guards Mikaela Topper '21 and Maggie Meehan '21, stood out in this one. Peckham registered a double-double, with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Brule equaled Peckham's rebounding total and added 7 more points. Topper and Meehan scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, and Topper added nine rebounds, falling one rebound short of a double-double.
"You never know on any given night whose night it's going to be," remarked Eph head coach Pat Manning following the win. "It takes pressure off shooters to know that we don't need one person to carry us, and having multiple scorers makes it much tougher for a defense to defend."
Only six Ephs scored in the game, but it was more than enough to earn a convincing double-digit victory against a Wesleyan team who had not lost by more than two points this season before the game.
Even though the Cardinals have dominated the boards so far this season, the Ephs still outrebounded them 60-42, with the efforts of Peckham, Brule, and Topper being especially outstanding. "Wesleyan's a really good rebounding team," noted Manning. "Our goal was to be dominant on the boards, and we did just that."
The win over Wesleyan continues the Ephs' best start since 2015-16, when they started 8-0. The six-game winning streak ties their longest winning streak since 2016-17, when they won six straight after dropping their first game.
After trading blows early in the first, the Ephs jumped out to an 18-10 lead at the end of the quarter. The Cardinals started strong to take an 8-4 lead after a layup by forward Katy O'Connor, but the Ephs struck right back with a 12-0 run. Maggie Meehan '21 started the streak with a layup, and hit back-to-back three-pointers to finish the run and give the Ephs a 16-8 lead. Each team scored two more points in the remainder of the quarter to make the 18-10 score.
In the second, the Ephs extended their lead, but the Cardinals fought back towards the end of the quarter to make it close. Guard Mikaela Topper '21 followed two free throws with a three of her own, giving the Ephs a 26-12 lead. After Wesleyan answered with a layup by Katy O'Connor, the Ephs extended their lead to sixteen with back-to-back makes by Meehan and Topper. But the Cardinals clawed back, starting with a three-pointer by Ava Tompkins and ending with a layup at the buzzer by Caleigh Ryan, finishing off a 14-4 Wesleyan run to end the half at 34-28.
At the half, Topper and Meehan had scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, accounting for 26 of the Ephs' 34 points and pacing the Williams offense in the first half. The Williams bench, on the other hand, was held scoreless to that point.
The Ephs responded well to the Cardinals' late run in the first half, as they scored 18 points and held Wesleyan to just 10 in the third quarter. After Wesleyan's Ryan opened the scoring with a layup, Emily Chang '20 hit a three-pointer – her first points since the first quarter – and forward Katie Brule '20 followed with two layups, the second of which drew a foul and resulted in a three-point play. The Ephs kept their feet on the gas, with guard Gabby Martin '21 hitting a free throw with 1:08 to go in the quarter that gave the Ephs an 18-point lead – their largest of the game to that point. Williams finished the third with a 52-38 advantage after Wesleyan scored four straight to finish the quarter.
In the fourth, the Ephs started with a 7-0 run to extend their lead to a game-high 21 and never looked back. Peckham scored seven points in the fourth, including the Ephs' first five points of the quarter. The Ephs never let the lead get below the fourteen-point threshold they finished the third quarter with.
The Ephs weren't particularly efficient from the floor – they finished 25 of 64 (39.1%) – but the Cardinals struggled with their shooting, going just 19 of 69 (27.5%). The results were similar from behind the arc. Despite making just 5 of 16 (31.3%) three-pointers, the Ephs made one more three than the Cardinals in thirteen fewer attempts, as Wesleyan finished just 4 of 29 (13.8%).
The Ephs dominated the boards, securing an impressive 60 rebounds – 23 of them offensive rebounds – as opposed to Wesleyan's 42. The Ephs' rebounding advantage led to them scoring 25 points on second chances, while the Cardinals managed just 14.
The Cardinals won the turnover margin 17-11, however, outscoring Williams off turnovers 17-8. Williams scored only 3 bench points, while Wesleyan managed 17.
In the end, though, it was perhaps Williams' best effort of the season so far. "I'm really happy with how we moved the ball tonight," said Manning. "We made some great decisions, and we've put together two great rebounding games in a row. Now, we just need to keep building on that."
This Friday, December 6th, at 6:00 PM, the Ephs go back home to face Wheaton College (Mass.).