Women’s Basketball Drop Two NESCAC Games on the Road

By Fritz Parker

The women’s basketball team dropped a pair of road NESCAC games this weekend, Friday Jan. 17 and Saturday, Jan. 19, hanging close until halftime in both games but ultimately falling to Wesleyan and Connecticut College.

Playing against the Cardinals in Silloway gym on Friday night, the Panthers got out to a fast start offensively, shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first half. Middlebury rode their hot shooting to a four-point halftime lead.

The second half, however, was all Wesleyan. Middlebury struggled to keep pace offensively, stunted by a 23-14 turnover margin for the game. The Cardinals turned these turnovers into crucial points down the stretch in opening up a late lead and cruising to a 59-51 victory over the Panthers.

Sarah Marcus ’14 led Middlebury with 14 points, while Scarlett Kirk ’14 added 10 points and a game-high 10 assists. Elizabeth Knox ’17 was the Panthers’ other double-digit scorer in the game with 10 points of her own.

“We are at our best when we are sharing the ball, and getting our points from several different players,” Laura Lowry ’14 said.

Taking on Conn. College on Sunday, the Panthers played a strong first half defensively against another tough opponent. Middlebury was able to cut out many of the turnovers that plagued them against Wesleyan, but both teams struggled with shooting in the first half. Hitting just enough shots in the first half to keep the game close, the Panthers entered the half trailing by just one.

“What worked for us offensively was making a commitment to getting the ball in the paint, and sharing the ball,” said Lowry. “We have so many different players who can score in very different ways, which is our biggest strength.”

The teams returned from halftime with renewed energy on the offensive end. In a flurry of scoring, both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor in the half. The Panthers struggled to keep pace with the red-hot Camels, however, and ended the game with a 70-63 loss.

Lowry scored 16 points on 6-13 shooting to pace the Panthers. Forward Rachel Crews ’15 went for 14 and Kirk added 13 to go with her seven rebounds.

With the pair of losses, the Panthers fall to 6-9 on the season and 1-3 in NESCAC play, while both Wesleyan and Conn. College improve to 2-1 in the conference.

“Our zone defensive was effective in both games this weekend and we are going to spend more time working on that in order to eliminate the problems and gaps that this weekend exposed,” Lowry said. “We’re also going to work on our offensive execution. We had some costly turnovers at the end of the Conn. game and throughout the Wesleyan game.”

After a mid-week game at Norwich on Thursday, Jan. 23, the Panthers will have the weekend to sharpen their skills before returning to face Williams and Hamilton in a split home-away weekend on Friday Jan. 31 and Sunday, Feb. 2, in games that will help sort out the middle of the NESCAC standings going forward.

“I am extremely optimistic and excited heading into our next NESCAC games,” said Lowry. “My teammates were extremely tough and relentless on the road in NESCAC play, which makes me confident that after we make the necessary adjustments we will get those wins.”

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