Despite going 1-1 on the weekend and boasting an improved record of 9-8, the Middlebury women’s basketball team found itself stunned by a last-second NESCAC loss. The Panthers were shocked by a late surge from Hamilton, who lost its third game in conference play on Friday, Jan. 18. Two days later, on Sunday, Jan. 20, the team rebounded from the loss by handling Albany Pharmacy with a score of 75-28.
The Panthers started the game in control against the Continentals, leading Hamilton 13-7 at the 11:35 mark after three-pointers from Sarah Marcus ’14 and Laura Lowry ’14. Hamilton came back to tie the game with 3:03 remaining in the first, however, bringing the score to 22-22. After a pair of Middlebury free throws with 0.1 seconds left in the first half, the teams went into the break with 26 points each.
Middlebury came out of the break strong, going on an 8-0 run including two buckets from Marcus and a three-point play from Tracy Borsinger ’13 to take the lead with 11:48 remaining. The Panthers continued to hold an advantage late into the contest, with the score at 52-44 with 1:19 remaining.
Eliza Howe led an improbable Continentals comeback, sinking two three-pointers and a free throw to bring the Continentals within two points with 38 seconds remaining. Despite Scarlett Kirk ’14 making two free throws after being fouled with 10 seconds left to seemingly ice the victory, Middlebury could not hold on to the win.
Hamilton guard Madie Harlem hit a three-pointer with 3.3 seconds to go to put the Continentals within one. Kim Goidell then stole an inbound pass and outletted it to forward Samantha Graber, who converted a lay-up with 0.7 seconds on the clock, sealing a one-point victory over Middlebury with five points in the game’s final moments.
Lowry led Middlebury with 14 points while Middlebury connected on 42.9 percent of shots from the floor. Kirk and Borsinger both claimed six rebounds.
Head coach Noreen Pecsok accepted that tough losses like the one against Hamilton come with playing basketball.
“I told our team ‘If you do this long enough, you are bound to experience something like we experienced [that] night,” she said. “You have to be willing to have the tough, sometimes painful experiences to have a chance at the thrilling ones.”
In a repeat of last weekend’s fortune, Middlebury was able to bounce back from a tough loss with a commanding win against Albany Pharmacy. Despite a slow start by both teams, Jesse Miller ’13 opened the scoring after a double rebound by Katie Pett ’14.
Middlebury was easily able to work the perimeter and penetrate a weak 2-3 zone. The Panthers especially benefitted from offensive rebounds, getting points off second shots.
A seven-point run from Kate Logan ’13, including a three and points off a steal, epitomised Middlebury’s offensive and defensive prowess. The Panthers went into the break with a 33-21 advantage after back to back threes from Borsinger.
Middlebury came out even stronger in the second half, as Albany Pharmacy failed to gain any momentum. The Panthers held their opponents to three points in 10 minutes, not to mention seven points in the entire half.
The game provided Middlebury an opportunity to incorporate new players and experiment with different partnerships, as Alex Coolidge ’15, Daisy Brown ’16 and Margaret Lindon ’14 all recorded points. In fact, 11 of 12 Middlebury players got on the score sheet.
Borsinger nearly outscored the entire Albany Pharmacy team, netting 24 points in 26 minutes of play.
Now halfway through its NESCAC schedule, Pecsok is taking one game at a time.
“As coaches we will take a look at things we might want to do better,” said Pecsok. “The team will just focus on the things we have focused on all year – getting better, playing for each other and competing in every situation.”