Up by 23 with less than nine minutes remaining, it’s possible that the women’s basketball team let up just a little bit in what was quickly becoming a field day for nearly all of UR’s starters in their game against Case Western Reserve University on Sunday.
With four Yellowjackets scoring in double digits and two setting career highs, a deep breath in the game’s final moments might be expected — acceptable even — given the women’s hard work.
Then, just like that, the stranglehold the home team held over the opposition vanished almost entirely. The Spartans came roaring back with an incredibly aggressive offense that cut the lead to a slim eight points. And when Case’s Sarah Milligan drained yet another three-pointer over the heads of a seemingly helpless UR squad, the Palestra went dead silent, as fans and coaches alike wondered if the dominant play the girls had sported for three quarters was all for nothing in the face of the University Athletic Association’s undefeated juggernauts.
But the Yellowjackets were not helpless — their No. 14 ranking in the country describes a very different team. With just over a minute to play, sophomore guard Kristyn Wright and senior guard Melissa Alwardt were both sent to the foul line and, with a calm composure, capitalized on the opportunities. Wright converted for four points, while Alwardt added another two.
The home team had shut the door, handing the Spartans (4-1 UAA, 10-6 overall) their first league loss of the season by an 82-73 score.
In a game in which they rarely trailed, the Yellowjackets were a textbook definition of the word “team” in the way they distributed the scoring. Wright led the way with a career high 14 points, followed closely by junior guard Michelle Ketcham and Alwardt (13 apiece) and sophomore forward Amy Woods (11).
“Every player contributed to our win on Sunday,” Wright said. “We had a nice distribution of scoring on the offensive end by many players and really played together on the defensive end.”
With the win, the Yellowjackets (3-2 UAA, 13-3 overall) maintain their third-place rank in the league. Case slips into a tie for second with Washington University in St. Louis. Undefeated University of Chicago sits atop the conference.
“As for the rest of the season, I hope we can continue to work hard and get better,” Wright said. “We have so much potential to go far this season and possibly make it to the Final Four for the second time in a row. We just have to stay focused and play for one another.”
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2014.