WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – For the first time since January 4th, the Williams Ephs (15-5, 4-2 NESCAC) have won multiple games in a row, defeating the Connecticut College Camels (6-12, 1-4 NESCAC) in a 64-48 match.
The two teams played close early on, but Williams eventually pulled away, outscoring Conn College 30-19 in the second half. With star guard Mikaela Topper '21 in early foul trouble, Devin Biesbrock '23 shined off the bench, controlling the game with an aggressive pace and scoring a career-high 10 points.
"Devin did a tremendous job of running the point and keeping the pace that we wanted," remarked Eph head coach Pat Manning following the victory. She made such a difference, and the pace that she played with was the pace we wanted. We kept attacking, and a lot of it was Devin keeping us moving."
In addition to Biesbrock, three other Ephs – Katie Brule '20, Emily Chang '20, and Maggie Meehan '21 – scored in double digits. Despite scoring 64 points, the Ephs shot just 23 of 62 (37.1%) from the floor.
One reason that the Ephs succeeded on offense despite their mediocre efficiency was their strength on the boards. Both starters in the frontcourt, Katie Brule '20 and Maddy Mandyck '22, registered double-digit rebounds, with 12 and 11, respectively. Williams outrebounded Conn College 49-33 and snagged 18 offensive rebounds, consistently giving the offense second chances.
"Katie and Maddy both had great games," said Manning. "The amount of offensive rebounds we got was really key to the outcome of the game."
The Camels raced out to an early lead, scoring on their first possession with a three by Claire Gulbin and finishing a game-opening 9-2 run on Sami Ashton's layup. The Ephs fought right back, scoring 8 straight, including five by Morgan Dauk '21, to tie the game by the end of the quarter.
The two teams continued to play close into the second quarter, but the Ephs once again finished strong and took a five-point lead into halftime. Trailing 27-26, Williams finished the half on an 8-2 run. Chang began the run with a three, Brule kept it going with a three-point play, and Devin Biesbrock '23 finished it off with a jumper to make the score 34-29 at the half.
Brule led the Ephs in scoring in the first half with seven points and also grabbed four rebounds. Claire Gulbin paced the Camels with 10 first-half points.
The Ephs didn't completely break away in the third quarter, but managed to extend their lead on yet another strong finish. With just three seconds to go, Biesbrock made an acrobatic floater from 15 feet away and was fouled, but missed the subsequent free throw. Still, the Ephs finished the third with a healthy nine-point lead – their largest of the game to that point.
In the fourth, Williams put the game away with an 11-0 run that spanned over six minutes. Brule and Chang, who each scored in double-digits, scored 9 of the 11 points on the run, and the Ephs extended their lead to as many as 20 points.
The perimeter defense and ball pressure, especially by guard Gabby Martin '21, was essential in limiting the impact of star Conn College guard Sami Ashton to just 10 points. "Conn has really good guard play, so it was important for us to put the pressure on the ball," noted Manning. "The whole defense hinges on ball pressure, so it was key that Gabby came in with the intensity that we needed."
In the end, it was a hard-fought match, but enough for the Ephs to come into tomorrow's important matchup with Trinity with plenty of confidence. "Conn pressured us well, but we had a strong fourth quarter," commented Manning. "We really had to work for this one, though."
Tomorrow afternoon at 3:00PM, the Ephs take on a talented Trinity team in their senior game.