Williams women's basketball team gets back on track with win over Bridgewater State

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WILLIAMSTOWN — Getting better is a process. After taking a step backwards on Tuesday night, the Williams College women's basketball team moved forward on Friday.

The Ephs held Bridgewater State to 16 points in the second half, improving to 5-1 with a 58-42 win over the Bears in the Williams Women's Basketball Holiday Classic nightcap.

Freshman Mikaela Topper and senior Amanni Fernandez both had nine points to lead Williams, three days after the Ephs squandered a 19-point halftime lead and lost at Skidmore.

"We came with a different mindset [Friday], because we really gave one away, we felt like, the other night," Williams coach Pat Manning said. "We just knew we had to be better on the boards.

"The reason we lost to Skidmore is because we gave up 21 offensive rebounds."

Friday night, the opposite occurred. The Ephs outrebounded the Bears (1-4) 37-26. Fernandez and Kristin Fechtelkotter each had eight rebounds, leading Williams and everyone on the court.

"We did it with rebounding, finally," said Manning. "We got 13 offensive rebounds. This was one of the few games where we won the boards. It was kind of fun because we did some different rotations tonight, and tried some different things."

In the first game of the classic, Erica DeCandido scored 18 points as top-ranked Tufts held off No. 9 Rochester 63-51.

The Holiday Classic's Saturday matchups were preset. Tufts will play Bridgewater in the 1 p.m. first game. Williams and Rochester will play at 3.

Bridgewater came to Williamstown as the team picked to finish third in the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference, but a team that did get first-place votes. Early on, the Bears looked like that team.

Bridgewater went on an 8-0 run to take a 10-4 lead with 5:42 left in the quarter. Freshman Destiny Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-2 post player who had a game-high 15 points, scored the first and last hoop of that run.

Williams came back and took a 11-10 lead on a drive to the hoop by Fernandez, the final points in a 7-0 spurt. Chanelle Mellon gave Bridgewater the lead back, but Emily Chang got behind the Bridgewater defense, caught a pass by Fernandez (4 assists), and scored on a drive to the hoop. It was 13-12 after one quarter, and Williams never trailed again.

The Ephs led by as many as 18 points in the game, that margin came when Lydia Zalecki scored with 5:52 left. After that, Williams held on to a double-figure lead until the final horn.

Every Williams player who played at least 10 minutes scored in the game. Lauren Vostal, Chang and freshman Maggie Meehan all had seven points each.

Manning said that freshman point guard Gabby Martin had an impactful 12 minutes. She scored six points, had two steals and three assists.

In the first game, the top-ranked Jumbos (5-0) handed Rochester (5-1) its first loss of the year. Tufts took the lead in the first quarter and never relinquished it.

Rochester's Lauren Deming hit a basket to give the Yellowjackets a 2-0 lead with 9:12 to go in the first quarter. DeCandido tied the game with 8:04 left. Then, off a Lizzy Atkinson turnover, Jennie Mucciarone scored on a breakaway to put the Jumbos ahead for keeps.

Tufts led 34-23 at halftime and by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter before Rochester made a run. The Yellowjackets cut the lead to eight points, but got no closer.

"This is usually what we do," Tufts coach Carla Berube said with a laugh. "We have a big lead and we like to let teams back in it. It just shows that we have a toughness, no matter what's happening in the game. Other teams get momentum and we can stop it."

Rochester's Alexandra Leslie had a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds. Melissa Baptista had a double-double for Tufts with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, and 413-496-6253.


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