While many UR students basked under the Caribbean sun, the women?s basketball team soaked up its own rays of glory.
The Yellowjackets won the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Championship Sunday, March 4 at Nazareth College. The women gained their first East Coast Athletic Conference bid in years after their upset win over Case Western Reserve University Feb. 24 and were eager for post-season play.
?We really wanted a chance to show the area that even though our record isn?t the best, we still had a good team that just ended up in a very tough conference,? junior forward Anne Gotstein said.
UR?s first hurdle in the tournament bracket was Union College Saturday, March 3. Despite the absence of senior forward Jill Strebel, the younger Yellowjackets rose to the challenge and the women won with relative ease 59-47. Strebel had quit the team a few days prior to the tournament.
Gotstein scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Yellowjackets in the winning effort. Freshman forward Katie Harrington stepped up to pitch in her career high 11 rebounds and 11 points. Harrington started in place of Strebel, and her terrific performance showed the women?s depth that they displayed during regular season.
UR?s defense was the key to the semifinal victory as the women held Union to just 21 percent shooting from the field. The Yellowjackets also out-rebounded the second seeded Dutchwomen 55-42.The women came off Saturday?s win over Union with high hopes and energy as they headed into finals Sunday March 4 against top-seeded Nazareth. The Yel-lowjackets? bright spirits helped them pull off an upset over the ECAC favorite 71-66 to claim the title.
Senior guard Jen Wafer pitched in 15 points while freshman guard Erika Smith contributed 13 points. This strong UR offensive duo led the women to wrap up halftime with a convincing lead 35-27.
In the second half, the visiting Yellowjackets held off the Golden Flyers in their home territory after a surge that helped them get within two points with less than two minutes remaining.
Wafer and Smith answered to Nazareth?s challenge by contributing a basket and two free throws respectively. Harrington shined again at this game, scoring nine points and adding nine rebounds to help pull off the victory. Gotstein also played a solid game at the hoop, adding 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Gotstein?s consistent offensive and defensive effort throughout the tournament earned her the Most Valuable Player award for this year?s ECACs.
But Gotstein doesn?t take all the credit for the victory.
?It takes a team to win and that?s what we did ? we came together very well as a team and pulled it off,? she said.
This year?s championship victory inspires the women to work harder to improve their standing this season. The record also adds to the glory that the Yellowjackets have earned this season from their winning record 16-11.
?Next year, people better watch out,? Gotstein said. ?We?ve already turned a few heads this year.?
?We are losing some key players Wafer, [senior forward] Erin [Toohill] and Jill [Strebel], but I think with our depth and now experience, we are going to be good,? she said.