The women’s basketball team have jumpstarted their season with an impressive 4-0 record after a streak of victories over a host of teams over the past few weeks.

The Yellowjackets first dominated SUNY Cortland with a massive 74-46 victory in the first round of the Chuck Resler Invitational. The team controlled the game by outshooting and out rebounding the Red Dragons. UR’s smothering defense was also a factor, creating 12 steals and causing 21 turnovers. “It was our first game, so we wanted to come out hard and start our season out right,” sophomore offensive player Megan Fish said.

UR assured success through meticulous and strong defensive play, gaining possession of the ball off the glass and guiding it into the net. “It was a very good defensive game for us because we came out and established ourselves right away,” head coach Jim Scheible noted. He also said that the team tried to create a strong defensive line to control the game and “play the way we want to play.”

The intensity built up because of the friction on the floor and the Yellowjackets utilized this to keep a fast-paced game in action that kept up the momentum of the defense and offense. Although the guards were vital to the win, clearly UR ruled the offense as well, with the final score as evidence.

Several players were paramount in securing a high board tally in strong offensive play as well. Junior guard Erika Smith contributed 18 points, including four three-point goals. Senior Anne Gotstein added 11 points to the score and had a game-high eight rebounds. “Erika and Anne hit a lot of good open shots and we moved the ball well to get them open,” junior forward Shannon Higgins said.

Further, captain Tara Carrozza, junior guard for the team, had four assists, two steals and three rebounds in 16 minutes. Higgins had four offensive assists and three offensive rebounds, in a high intensity 19 minutes.

UR dominated on both offensive and defensive ends. “We dictated a lot of what happened,” junior forward Bekah Jones said. “We went out and owned the floor the whole time. We controlled them; it was a good overall team win.”

The Yellowjackets next conquered Alma College on Nov. 23 in the championship game of the Chuck Resler Invitational with a 79-60 final score. This game presented a challenge to the team, offering a high fast-paced game in which both teams rarely let up on rigor. The players pushed hard on one another and brought ardor to the floor. “We wanted to run the ball, it was an intense game,” Fish said.

UR had to overcome the strong inside post players Alma College produced. “We wanted to make life miserable for her [opponent post player] by getting her from all angles and making her work for everything she got,” Scheible commented, in reference to key opponent athletes.

The team held a lead throughout the game as a result of immense efforts from athletes that significantly brought about a win. Sophomore center Ashley Latimer came off the bench and added 11 points for UR and five rebounds. “Ashley is key for us,” Scheible said. “She has stepped up and played very well.”

Smith also stood out as important to the victory with her 9 points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals, certainly factors that led to her title as Tournament MVP. Sophomore forward Kelly Wescott, Gotstein and Carrozza also added points to the scoreboard.

These wins ignited a momentum the Yellowjackets carried into the Dec. 1 Ithaca game in which Rochester looked to topple the 23rd nationally ranked team in Division III. Ithaca suffered a 20 point deficit in the 69-49 final score as the girls overtook Ithaca’s notoriously strong play.

“We knew we had to come out ready to play at the beginning because we were on the road, and you have to come out ready to play when not on home court,” Jones noted. “We had to match their intensity because they came out strong defensively, and we had to bring it out to them and fight right back.”

The women did just that, offering 53 percent on shots highlighted by a dazzling 68 percent in the second half. UR brought their goal of winning in rebounds to reality, with a 40-25 edge over the Bombers. In addition, the Yellowjackets worked to counteract Ithaca’s strengths in three point shots. “They have a lot of good three point shooters, so we tried to keep them on the perimeter and keep contesting them,” Scheible said

UR shut down this offensive play and made every Ithaca point fueled by immense effort to overcome the wall the girls built to hold back the Bombers. The Jackets presented a host of athletes that contributed to the triumph over the basketball powerhouse. Smith added 18 points and 11 rebounds, Fish had 14 points and six rebounds, Wescott and Carrozza had eight points each and Higgins had seven.

Although Ithaca launched a tough roster and strategic play, UR was able to dethrone this and attain another win by pushing through and not letting up. The girls hope this game will set a precedent for strong play for the rest of the season. “We went with confidence,” Higgins said. It was a big game for us to prove where we wanted to go with this season and prove where we want to go.”

UR followed this game up with a win over Hartwick on Tuesday 60-53. Several athletes offered a strong performance that contributed to the win. Wescott rose to add 18 points, 12 rebounds and just a general solid player on the floor. Fish and Jones also added some to the point tally.

The score was closer than UR would have liked and the level of play was lower than their potential. “The way we look at it is we came to play and we had to find ways to win. We weren’t as sharp as we were against Ithaca, but it was a quality win under adverse conditions,” Scheible said.

Despite a weaker game than usual, the game still set the team’s record at 4-0. “This game was ugly, and you come out some nights and you just don’t click,” Jones observed. “Our offense wasn’t clicking so we picked it up on the defensive end, and that translated into a win. Overall, the important thing is that we came out with a ‘W’, whatever way you can get it.”

The Yellowjackets look to continue their winning record at Carnegie Mellon this Saturday. “Teams look at us because they really want to beat us, so we have a bullseye on our back,” Scheible said. Their opponents have good reason, as UR will be facing the rest of the schedule with a formidable 4-0 record, 21st national ranking, a deep and strong roster and the desire to succeed.



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