Women’s Basketball Records Road Victory at Williams

By IMRAN GANDA

The Women’s basketball team managed to recover from their back-to-back losses against Bates and Tufts last week by beating Williams in Massachusetts on Jan. 20, 57–54. On Monday Jan. 22, when they hosted Smith in a non-conference bout, the Panthers suffered their first home loss of the season, losing 60–45.

Middlebury looked to dominate the Ephs last Saturday evening when they confined Williams to just one point at the 5:40 mark of the opening quarter. With less than three minutes to play, the Panthers found nine of the final 12 points coming from guard Kira Waldman ’20, who scored three from beyond the arc.

With Middlebury leading 25–11, Williams responded by making the second quarter a more tightly contested matchup. After seven and a half minutes of buckets being exchanged by both teams, Williams closed out the second quarter with a 9–2 run, outscoring the Panthers 16–8.

The Panthers built on the half-dozen-point lead, 33–27, that they took into halftime straight away in the second half as they opened with a 6–0 run that saw a pair of free throws converted by forward Maya Davis ’20. As the Ephs answered back with a 6–0 spurt of their own, the Panthers defense allowed them to tack on some additional points in the last two and a half minutes of play. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Panthers comfortably led 48–35.

The game seemed to be tucked away as the Panthers found a three from Sarah Kaufman ’20 less than a minute into the final quarter. However, the remainder of the quarter was dominated by Williams as they went on a 14–4 run and only trailed 55–51 with 90 seconds on the clock. When Amanni Fernandez of Williams drilled a three with 20 seconds left, the Panthers’ lead was down to just two points, 56–54. In the final four seconds, Williams was unable to find the bottom of the net from downtown, allowing the Panthers to narrowly escape with a victory.

Davis had a team high 12 points and game high eight rebounds while Waldman scored 11 off the bench for the Panthers, which included sinking three of the five shots she took from beyond the arc.

On Monday, the Panthers hosted Smith and got off to a shaky start. The first half of the first quarter saw Smith score seven unanswered points. As the clock approached the four minute mark, the Panthers managed to cut the lead down 7–6. However, the Panthers were unable to contain the swarming Pioneers who went on a 10–2 run to end the first quarter with a 17–8 lead.

Finding themselves down 22–10 in the second quarter, the Panthers went on an 8–2 run. Five of the eight were scored by guard Sabrina Weeks ’18, who finished with a team high 13 points. With the deficit then down to four points, 24–20, Smith scored five of the half’s final points to lead 33–24 heading into halftime. Both teams scored 16 in the second quarter.

Smith seemed to slow down when they came out for the third quarter thanks to some Middlebury halftime adjustments. The Panthers managed to hold Smith to just seven points as they ended the final the 90 seconds of the third with a 6–0 run. Behind threes from Weeks and Davis, the Panthers refused to go away and headed into the final quarter down 40–36.

The Panthers looked to even the score or take the lead when Davis converted a layup immediately into the final quarter. With the lead cut to two, the Pioneers chipped away at the Panthers, outscoring them 14–3 over the next six and a half minutes. With less than three minutes left, Middlebury trailed 54–41. Down 13, the Panthers did not have enough time to get back into it, and fell at home for the first time this season.

A short stint of quick turnarounds this past week-plus has tested the Panthers’ endurance. After suffering their first home loss, they still boast an impressive 13–5 overall record while being 3–2 in conference play.

The Panthers return to action in Pepin for a game in Nescac play as they will host Trinity this Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m.

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