Women’s Basketball Goes 1-1 against Smith and Williams

By Colby Morris

Women’s basketball split a pair of inspired games this past week. On Tuesday, Jan. 29, the Panthers outlasted Smith for a 70-57 victory. The Panthers returned to conference play Sunday, Jan. 24, when they travelled to Williamstown, Mass. to play Williams in the Chandler Athletic Center. The Panthers entered the game needing a win to climb above .500 in conference play and tied with Williams with a 2-2 record in the NESCAC standings.

The Panthers’ victory over Smith did not come easily, as they fell behind the Pioneers 12-10 early in the first quarter. The turning point came in the second quarter when Middlebury broke a 17-17 tie with a nine straight points, propelling the team to a 14 to seven run and a 31-24 halftime lead.

Eileen Daley ’18 and Sarah Kaufman ’18 helped the Panthers hold onto the momentum when they came out of the locker room for the second half. Daley and Kaufman hit five jump for the Panthers combining for 17 of the team’s 21 third quarter points, which gave Middlebury a comfortable 52-39 lead heading into the fourth.
Daley finished the game with a double-double, scoring a career high 14 points to go with 13 boards, two assists and three steals on the defensive end. Kaufman led all scorers with 21 points, played a game-high 38 minutes and went five-for-five from the free throw stripe.

Catherine Harrison ’19 and Sabrina Weeks ’18 also contributed to the winning effort. Harrison had 10 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Weeks added 11 points off the bench.

The Panthers improved to 10-5 with the win.

The Panthers again struggled out of the gate again Sunday in Williamstown. However, after the team dug itself a 10-0 hole, the Panthers bounced back and took a 19-17 lead after Kaufman sunk a clutch three-pointer with 3:41 to go in the first half.

The travel, the injuries and the team’s depleted bench began to take a toll on the Panthers. Middlebury was trailing 49-37 by the end of the third quarter, having lost the momentum they built up at the end of the first half.

In the end, the Panthers were undermanned, limping to a tough 66-49 loss.

For the game, Middlebury shot an uncharacteristically low 32.7 percent from the field and went just eight for 15 from the free throw line. If the Panthers are going to compete against the tougher opponents on their NESCAC schedule, they must be more efficient from the field. Even in their NESCAC wins against Bates and Wesleyan, the Panthers only shot 44.6 percent and 41.4 percent, respectively. Despite the loss, the Panthers had two players score in double figures as Kaufman netted 14, Harrison just missed a double-double with eight points and 11 rebounds and Collins added 10 off the bench.

“We’re looking forward to another opportunity to prove how hard we have been working,” said Harrison as the team hopes to shake off their low shooting percentages in the Williams game.

After last night’s home game against Castleton — the results of which can be found on the Middlebury Athletics website — the Panthers will take on Hamilton for another important NESCAC game this Saturday, Jan. 30 in Pepin Gymnasium. With just five NESCAC games left in the regular season schedule, the team will need to capitalize on the weak opponents heading into the playoff race against tougher teams.​