Williams women's basketball team opens NESCAC play with win
WILLIAMSTOWN — One game at a time, not surprisingly, is the mantra of Williams College women's basketball coach Pat Manning, as it is with most of her cohorts across the country.
Her players take it one step farther.
"Our motto is 'Beat yesterday,'" guard Gabby Martin said after Williams defeated Hamilton 70-61 in the NESCAC conference opener for both teams.
Martin came off the bench to score 15 points, and was one of four Ephs to score in double figures. Maggie Meehan led Williams with 17 points, while Emily Chang had 14 and Mikaela Topper had 10.
Williams (12-1, 1-0 NESCAC) came into the game having had its season-long winning streak end at 11 games Tuesday night at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. And with the second game of the first conference weekend against arch-rival and fourth-ranked Amherst, a loss Friday could have turned into a losing streak in a hurry.
"It was a huge confidence booster tonight," Meehan said. "We just came in with totally different defensive intensity and energy from the bench, which was extremely helpful and boosted our confidence."
A 11-0 run by Williams in the first quarter put the Ephs ahead for keeps. Meehan hit a pair of 3-point baskets in that run, and when Chang drained a 3-ball with 6:24 left, a one-point deficit was now a 14-4 lead. Twice in the first half, the Continentals (10-4, 0-1) challenged the Ephs, cutting the lead two two points. Williams responded each time, and when the Ephs outscored Hamilton 11-4 over the final 6 1/2 minutes of the second quarter, it was a 39-30 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Williams led by as many as 16 points. Hamilton did cut Williams' lead to six late in the fourth quarter, but could not get any closer.
"We weren't ourselves on Tuesday. We didn't play with the intensity that we needed and our defense was lacking," Manning said. "I think being able to get back on track against a really good Hamilton team. They're a talented team.
"We had the effort on both ends of the floor tonight, so it was awesome."
The Continentals won 10 games in all of the 2018-19 season and had only one winning campaign in the last six years. But after starting 9-0, the Continentals have lost three of their last four.
Hamilton opened the third quarter with a 3-point shot by Carly O'Hern, cutting Williams' lead to six points. The Ephs responded with an 8-0 run, extending the lead to 14. Katie Brule scored four of her six points in that run, getting inside for both baskets.
Williams led by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter. Hamilton cut the Williams lead to six with just under two minutes left, but got no closer.
Manning said that the play of starting forward Mandy Mandyck and Martin off the bench were keys to the victory. Mandyck had a career-high 12 rebounds for Williams, while Martin ignited several comebacks. Martin had 15 points, her first double-figure game since the Ephs beat Springfield in December. Martin had four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
"I feel like I'm the sixth man on the team right now, so I come in and try to bring as much energy as I can," said Martin. "I'm typically more of an upbeat kind of player, so I try to get my teammates riled up and I try to lead with my defense."
Hamilton's Kelcie Zarle led all scorers with 23 points.
Williams now hosts the fourth-ranked Mammoths, who beat Middlebury 60-38 in Vermont on Friday. Williams has lost 10 straight to the Mammoths.
"Today, we really focused on Hamilton," said Martin. "We didn't talk much, at all about Amherst, until [Saturday]. Today we had to lock in and stay focused on the game ahead of us."
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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