February 24, 2009

After late run comes up short against Rochester, Maroons easily outpace cold-shooting Carnegie

One month ago, women’s basketball was celebrating its landmark win against then-top-ranked Rochester. This past weekend, when Maroons went for the season sweep against the Yellowjackets, things didn’t go so well.The Maroons (17–7, 8–5 UAA) started the weekend off with a close loss to Rochester (21–3, 10–3) Friday evening, 52–56, but tempered that disappointment with a win in Sunday’s home finale against Carnegie Mellon (5–19, 0–13), 76–48.Fourth-year guard Alex Leach scored 12 points Friday as the Maroons struggled to overcome Rochester’s second-half advantage, which reached double-digits a couple of times.At halftime, the Yellowjackets were only up by four, but with less than 10 minutes left, they had pulled ahead 47–35. Chicago battled back. The Maroons kept cutting into the deficit until second-year Karly Kasper made a lay-up to bring the Maroons up to 48–49 with just under four minutes left on the clock.Rochester countered and widened their lead to 53–48, but fourth-year Alex Leach scored four points late, drawing Chicago within two points with 40 seconds remaining.The Yellowjackets made two free throws in the next 20 seconds, putting them up 52–56, where the score stood as the final buzzer sounded.“Key factors Friday were that we didn’t make our free throws, layups or three-pointers,” head coach Aaron Roussell said. “It’s tough to win games when you’re not hitting shots.” The Maroons had a chance to turn it around Sunday, and they took advantage of it, bringing home a decisive win against Carnegie.“We just came out of the gates and took a 10–0 lead,” Roussell said. “We took the lead and kept command of the game the whole game.”At halftime, the Maroons were ahead 39–17, and their lead widened throughout most of the second half.First-year Bryanne Halfill tallied 16 points and pulled in 12 rebounds on the day, while Leach scored 13.Sunday was Senior Day, and so Leach, the team’s lone fourth-year, received a special introduction at the start of the game. She has been a member of the team for the past four years.“Alex has been here through a rise in our program, so to play well and have a big win Saturday was a nice thing for her,” Roussell said.Overall, the team put up better performances than they had Friday night. “I thought we did a really good job of defending [against Carnegie Mellon],” added Roussell. “We forced them to make jump shots, and they struggled from the floor.”He also commended the play of first-year guards Halfill and Herrick.Now, the team must look ahead to its final regular-season game, at rival Wash U this Saturday.“To get into the NCAA tournament, we need to beat them,” Roussell said, “and they’re already clinched the league championship.” “If we don’t win, this is probably our last game of the season.”