The women’s basketball team traveled to Trinity (13-8, 6-3 NESCAC) on Friday, Feb. 7 and dropped one to the Bantams in a heartbreaker 64-61. The Cardinals looked strong early in the first half, jumping out to an 11-4 lead at the 15:21 mark. Trinity responded, however, with an 8-0 run to take a 12-11 lead. Halfway through the first, Wesleyan led 15-14 after a jumper by Kaylie Williams ’16. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, this would be their final lead of the game.
The Bantams stretched their first-half lead to 6 (28-22) at the 6:16 mark. But the Cards didn’t let it get any larger than that, as Captain KellyAnn Rooney ’14 poured in 14 first-half points, helping Wesleyan cut the deficit to 36-35 at the half.
Trinity controlled the tempo in the second half, as Wesleyan managed to get close but could never mount enough momentum to take a lead. The closest the Cards came was at the 9:01 mark, when they tied the score 49-49 on a layup by Miller Hartsoe ’15. Trinity then went on a 9-1 run to make the score 58-50. Wesleyan took it down to the wire, trimming Trinity’s lead to 62-61 with 16 seconds remaining, but ultimately fell short after a pair of late Bantam free throws sealed the contest.
“It was definitely a frustrating loss,” Rooney wrote in an email to The Argus. “I feel like we played hard and fought our way out of multiple holes, especially at the end of the first half, but we weren’t able to capitalize on Trinity’s mistakes and that hurt us in the end.”
Despite shooting slightly better from the field than Trinity did (Wes hit 41.3 percent of its attempts compared to just 40.7 percent from the Bantams) the Cardinals were held to a season-low 46 shots. Rooney led the scoring attack with 18 points and Captain Jenna Klaes ’14 also did her part, chipping in 15.
The next day held an even tougher task against a familiar, formidable Little Three rival. Wesleyan fared better than in its first meeting with Amherst, but the 11th-ranked Lord Jeffs (21-2, 8-1 NESCAC) were still too much for the visiting Cardinals (12-9, 3-5 NESCAC), prevailing 51-39.
Wesleyan could smell the upset, trailing only 23-21 at halftime, but Amherst went on a 16-3 run to open the second half, leading 39-24 at the 11:00 mark. The Cardinals showed resolve, refusing to let the game get out of hand; however, they could never mount a true comeback.
The visitors managed to limit the Lord Jeffs’ largest scoring threat, Hannah Peterson, who torched the Cardinals for 28 points in their last meeting, to just 13 points. This defensive effort was still not enough, however, as Wesleyan shot just 22.3 percent from the field. The Cardinals’ 39-point output was their lowest of the season. Williams led the Cardinals in scoring with 13 points. Brenna Diggins ’17 added a team-high nine rebounds.
“Amherst has always been a strong team, and at the end of the day whichever team executes their game plan best wins the game, and the past two times we played them we didn’t execute as well as we needed to,” Williams wrote in an email to The Argus.
Wesleyan has now lost a season-high three games in a row and five of its last six overall. It will be important for the Cardinals to put this recent losing stretch behind them.
The Cards have two big home NESCAC matchups this weekend to close out their regular season as they try to boost their seeding for the NESCAC tournament. Wesleyan will play Hamilton (10-11, 3-5 NESCAC) on Friday Feb. 14. Then, on Saturday, Feb. 15, the team faces dominant Williams (19-3, 5-3 NESCAC) in another Little Three bout.
“These next two games against Hamilton and Williams are very important, not only to finish off the regular season on a high note, but also in terms of seeding for the NESCAC tourney,” Rooney wrote. “This week it will be important to continue to stay focused and to stay confident in the way we play the game, both offensively and defensively.”