February 2, 2009

The Panther women's basketball team saw Taylor Shea of Williams score 17 of her team-high 24 points in the second half Saturday, rallying Williams past Middlebury, 79-68, at the Chandler Gymnasium. The Ephs trailed Middlebury by as many as 14 points in the first half before cutting that deficit to 10 by the break. A 13-0 run to start the second half gave them a lead and Shea took over down the stretch to help Williams improve to 8-12 overall, 3-2 in the NESCAC.

The Panthers, who were led by senior Emily Johnson's (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) game-high 31 points, fell to 7-13 overall, 1-4 in the conference. Both Shea (24 points, 12 rebounds) and Jess Harris (16 points, 16 rebounds) posted double-doubles for Williams. Chessie Jackson added 13 points, while first-year point guard Jill Greenberg dished off 10 assists.

Aside from Johnson's 31 points on 12 of 22 shooting, Middlebury received double-figure scoring with 14 points from senior Ashley Barron (Brockton, Mass.) and 11 from sophomore Laura Sanchez (Seattle, Wash.).

Following the Ephs big run to start the second half, the Panthers responded with a drive to the hoop by Barron, a three-pointer off the right wing from Johnson and, following a turnover, a transition lay-up by Johnson for a 54-50 lead.

A steal by Shea led to her coast-to-coast layup that regained the lead for Williams at 56-54 with 14:02 remaining, and Shea's 12-foot baseline jumper moments later upped that lead to four.

Middlebury rallied again to tie the game at 60 on a baseline floater from Barron, but the Ephs took the lead for good on a free throw from Ana Rodriguez-Villa (nine points) with 10:50 to go. Jackson connected on a key trey from the top of the key for a 64-60 lead that sparked a 10-0 run for the Ephs.

Williams defensive effort in the second half made the difference. The Ephs held Middlebury to just 8 of 28 from the floor (28.8 percent) and out rebound their opponents, 26-20. Shea switched to Barron and held her to two points over the final 20 minutes.

Johnson hit 7 of 11 shots in the first half, 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, to help the Panthers build a 47-37 lead by halftime.

Earlier in the week, Middlebury fell to Keene State in a closely contested non-league match-up 48-44 at Pepin Gym. The game was marred by 52 combined turnovers, as both teams shot nearly identically from the floor. The Panthers hit 15 of 49 shots, while the Owls connected on 15 of 50 from the field.

The first half saw five lead changes as neither team could muster a lead bigger than three points before a lay-up by Keene's Michele Boudreau gave the Owls a 19-15 lead with 2:01 left in the half. Junior Kaitlyn Fallon (Swarthmore, Pa.) cut the lead to 19-17 on a lay-up with 35 seconds remaining. The basket highlighted a big first half for Fallon, as she went 3 for 3 from the field and grabbed six of her game-high 15 rebounds.

The Panthers tied the game at 19 apiece in the second on a pair of free throws by Elissa Goeke (Chevy Chase, Md.) at the 19:14 mark. Keene State responded with a three by Kristin Degou, building their lead to as many as eight points with 8:14 left in the game. Middlebury went on a 13-4 run to retake the lead with 3:12 left on the clock. Johnson keyed the comeback, adding seven points during the run, including a traditional three-point play for the one-point lead.

Boudreau hit a pair from the line to recapture the lead with 2:59 left. Keene State continued to hit their free throws down the stretch, hitting their next six from the line for a 48-42 lead before Lauren Sanchez hit a jumper, cutting the lead to 48-44 with nine seconds on the clock. The Panthers fouled immediately, sending the Owls to the line. Keene State missed both free throws, but the Panthers could not get off a shot in the final seconds.

Johnson led the Panthers with 12 points, as Sanchez chipped in 10. Fallon netted eight points to go with her game-high 15 rebounds. Four Owls were in double-digits, highlighted by Boudreau's dozen, as Degou, Nicole Simmler and Alyssa Sapp each scored 10 in the victory.
. Women's basketball record: 7-12
. Up next: 2/6 @ Bowdoin, 2/7 @ Colby