Photo Gallery | Williams women's basketball tops Middlebury at home
WILLIAMSTOWN — Seven days ago, the Williams College women's basketball team was mired in a bit of a slump. Not anymore.
After dropping three out of four games, the Ephs completed a weekend NESCAC sweep by beating Middlebury 66-49 on Sunday afternoon.
Williams is now 13-4 and 3-3 in NESCAC, while Middlebury is 10-6, 2-3.
Amanni Fernandez, who scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half, was one of three Ephs to score in double figures as the team has bounced back from a streak where they lost three out of four conference games.
"We have all the momentum we need right now," said Fernandez. "Going into the Amherst game [Wednesday], I think we're definitely pumped up right now."
"We just hit a wall, that's all," said Eph guard Devon Caveney. "From here on out, we're on the rise, and we haven't even played our best basketball yet."
In a game that had seven of its eight lead changes in the first half, Williams opened the second half on a 14-2 run to take control of the game. Williams outscored Middlebury 36-18 in the final two quarters.
"I was really happy" with the second half, Williams coach Pat Manning said. "We kind of played like this in the second half at Hamilton the other day. Our defense got better, our rebounding got better and those were the two things that were the most impressive."
Fernandez, a sophomore guard from New York City combined with her backcourt mate Caveney to propel the Ephs in the third quarter.
Williams had scored the game's first 10 points but the Panthers had come back to take a 31-30 halftime lead on a basket by Catherine Harrison with 55 seconds to play in the half.
Williams opened the third quarter on a pair of baskets by Caveney and two free throws by Fernandez, forcing Panthers coach K.J. Krasco to call a time out.
The Panthers got a hoop from Eileen Daley, but Fernandez scored six of Williams' next eight points. Not even a second time out could slow down the Ephs. As the quarter ended, Williams outscored the Panthers 19-6 and held a 49-37 lead. Fernandez scored 11 points in the quarter.
"We knew we were down one at half, and we knew that whatever we had to do we would do to come out stronger in the first five minutes," said Fernandez. "We kept the tempo up like we did at the beginning of the game.
"That's the name of our game, make quick baskets, play good defense and get a lot of rebounds."
Williams had only eight defensive rebounds at halftime and finished the game with 27, 37 total.
The Ephs also had a big day from junior forward Lauren McCall, who scored a season-high 19 points. McCall was 5 for 10 from outside the 3-point arc. It was the most points she had scored in a NESCAC game since netting 25 against Wesleyan on Feb. 15, 2014.
"I think Lauren McCall had an amazing day too. I think this was probably Lauren's best day of the year," said Manning.
It was also a family reunion day. Devon Caveney's cousin Colleen, a freshman at Middlebury, was in the starting lineup. For most of the first half, Devon guarded Colleen until the Eph picked up two fouls and went to the bench.
"We used to" play against each other a lot, Colleen Caveney said. "Not so much any more."
Colleen Caveney finished up with four points and eight rebounds. They both grew up in Andover. This will, however, be the only time the Caveneys play against each other — unless Williams and Middlebury face off in the NESCAC Tournament.
"It was definitely a little weird" to play against her cousin, Devon Caveney said. "It was fun. We both are very competitive and it's a fun competition.
"We won, so it made it a little more fun for me."