The Middlebury women’s basketball team started off the season with disappointment after a 66-61 overtime loss in the Tip-Off Classic against the University of Massachusetts- Boston on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Panthers, however, rebounded to win the consolation game against Colby-Sawyer 59-48. The team continued the season with a 80-47 loss against Smith on Tuesday, Nov. 20 and a 81-73 win against Plattsburgh on Sunday, Nov. 25.
“We are happy but not satisfied by our performances so far this season,” said co-captain Jesse Miller ’13. “We have faced some very good competition so far this season, which has been great to play against no matter the outcome. Every situation is a chance to improve and get one step closer to being the team that we aspire to be this season.”
In their first game of the season against UMass-Boston, the Panthers trailed at the beginning 16-9 before going on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 16-16. They extended the run to 12-1 after a basket from Katie Ritter ’15 gave the Panthers a 21-17 lead at 7:17. Unfortunately, Middlebury was unable to hold the lead after UMass-Boston finished the first half with a 30-25 lead.
After falling behind in the second half, Laura Lowry ’15 hit a three pointer to tie the game at 36-36 at the 14:16 mark. The score continued to yo-yo after Middlebury was able to erase the Beacons’ 10 point lead, when a jump-shot from Ritter tied the game at 52-52 with only 1:35 left to play. UMass-Boston managed to regain the lead with 45 seconds on the clock before a basket from Rachel Crews ’15 sent the game into overtime.
The Beacons went on an 8-0 run in the overtime period after Middlebury was unable to convert their shots and turned over the ball twice.
Three Middlebury players ended the game with double figures, led by Sarah Marcus ’14 who scored a game-high of 17 points. Ritter led the team with seven rebounds while Lowry had four assists.
After the disappointment of Saturday’s game, Middlebury came out strong against Colby-Sawyer. They took a 19-5 lead in the first 9:46 before the Chargers cut the lead to nine. However, Middlebury continued to push and went into the break with a 31-12 lead.
Colby-Sawyer was the more alert of the two teams at the beginning of the second half scoring 14 out of 19 points to cut the advantage to six at 34-28. While the Chargers came within three points on two occasions, Middlebury was able to hang on for its first win of the season.
Tracy Borsinger ’13 was the high scorer for the Panthers with 18 points and also claimed eight boards, while all-tournament team member Marcus was second with 14 points.
The Panthers went into their game against Smith looking to build on the momentum of the win against Colby-Sawyer. However, Middlebury was never really able to challenge the Pioneers.
Middlebury started off the game with a 4-0 lead, but the lead was their last of the game. The Pioneers responded with a 9-0 run after baskets from Rosa Drummond and Paulina Solis. Smith continued to increase their advantage and built their biggest lead of 41-17 after a layup from Bethany Clap, and went into the break with a 43-20 advantage.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first after Smith opened the period with a 10-2 run. The Pioneers led by as much as 37 after another Solis layup went down.
The Panthers struggled on offense, sinking only two out of 11 long-range attempts. Ritter led the attack with nine points, while Borsinger finished with eight rebounds.
Middlebury was able to pick itself up after its loss at Smith, bouncing back with a comfortable win against Plattsburgh.
The Cardinals started off the stronger of teams, opening up the game with an 8-0 run, eventually extending their largest lead to 11-2 after a three-pointer by Brittany Marshall at 15:11.
Plattsburgh continued to dominate the rest of the half holding a 30-22 advantage with 1:07 remaining on the clock, before Marcus hit a pair of triples. Then Nora Kelly ’15 pounded through the Cardinal’s defence, downed a layup, and closed the gap to 32-30.
The Panthers continued to build on this momentum at the onset of the second half, beginning with an 8-0 run on a pair of triples from Lowry and a jumper from Borsinger. Middlebury increased the lead to as much as 10 points just five minutes into the half.
However, on the strength of an offensive surge from Marshall, who went on a 7-0 run at the 8:54 mark, the Cardinals found themselves in the lead for the first time since the halftime break. Their advantaged grew to 66-63 with 4:31 remaining.
But after the Panthers emerged from a key back-and-forth sequence with possession, Middlebury went on a 10-0 run to complete their comeback victory.
Marcus finished with 21 points while Borsinger had 20 points and seven assists.
The Panthers fell victim to a slow start against Castleton State, however, as Middlebury’s resurgence at the end of the game fell just short, as the Panthers fell 62-60 to the Spartans.
While Castleton built an early lead, the game yo-yoed back and forth as the Spartans built a seven-point lead before the Panthers cut it to two, 27-25, with 6:24 left. Castleton went into the break only a basket better than Middlebury, leading 32-30.
Castleton rallied at the start of the second half, however, extending their lead to 10 with a jumper by Alyssa Leonard. Their lead continued to fluctuate as a 4-0 Panther run brought the visitors within a basket at 57-55 with 3:35 remaining in the game. After the teams traded baskets, Scarlett Kirk ’14 again brought the Panthers within one point with just 41 seconds left. After a jumper from Castleton guard Kelly Conway, Kattie Ritter ’15 attempted a game-tying three with 12 seconds left, but the ball rimmed out.
Borsinger led the team with a game high of 25 points, while Katie Pett ’14 finished with eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.
While the Panthers have had an up-and-down start to the season, head coach Noreen Pecsok sees the opening games as a way to gauge her team’s strengths and set season-long goals.
“We have a lot of people who haven’t played a lot of minutes due to injury in the past, so right now we are figuring out who plays well together,” said Pecsok. “We believe all the things we need to get better at are within our grasp, so everyone is very positive.”
Marcus, echoing her coach’s sentiments stressed the importance of the team maintaining its defenisve intensity.
“This season, we want to be a disruptive, defensive team,” she said. “We want to make it as hard as possible for the other team to score, and if we play tough defense, it will give us energy to push the ball and get easy baskets in transition. I am extremely excited for the rest of the season, and if we continue to stay focused and play hard, good things will come.”
Middlebury returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 1 against Emmanuel.