This weekend, with a victory over Carnegie Mellon University, the UR women’s basketball team achieved one of their pre-season goals.The Yellowjackets earned an at-large bid for the NCAA Division III Tournament and are the top-seeded team in the East Region. It will be the team’s first NCAA playoff game since 1986-87, and is the team’s fourth ever showing in the tournament.
In order to reach this point, UR had to defeat Carnegie Mellon last saturday at home. “We came at it with intensity and in the end we wanted it more than them,” sophomore Ashley Latimer said. This drive helped the Yellowjackets to a 56-47 win.
“The Carnegie Mellon game was the deciding game of our season,” junior captain Tara Carrozza said. Knowing this, UR was extremely motivated to get the win. Further, the game came on Senior Day and the team wanted to close out the regular season strong. “We wanted to send Anne Gotstein and Sarah Sullivan out on a positive note,” Latimer said.
The women ended the game on this high, concluding the season 21-4 overall and 10-4 in the University Athletic Association. UR finished second in the UAA — their best conference finish — behind Washington University in St. Louis. This marks the third highest win total in UR history and the most wins since 1986-87.
The game was a solid team victory, and several players stepped up to lead the Yellowjackets. Sophomores Kelly Wescott and Megan Fish each had 14 points. Gotstein and Sullivan also had strong showings.
UR gained a permanent lead late in the first half with points from Fish and Wescott. At the opening of the second half, the team went on a 7-0 run for a 36-23 lead. Carnegie Mellon cut the lead a few times, but could never catch UR.
Fish pointed to strong defense as one of the reasons UR came out on top. Latimer pointed toward extreme intensity as the driving factor that propelled the Yellowjackets over the edge. These aspects are important to the win, although the inner motivation to come out of the game on top trumped all of these. “We were very focused on winning the game,” Carrozza said.
With the regular season in the past, the team is looking toward playing in the NCAA Tournament, beginning this Saturday when they face the victor of the University of Scranton-St. Lawrence University game as their opponent.
“I am definitely excited, as is the whole team,” Latimer said. “It was a team goal from the beginning [to make the Tournament] and throughout the season it has been something we had to work for, but we can see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Earning a spot in the tournament is an accomplishment on its own, but UR is not satisfied with simply participating. “At this point, just getting in is not good enough. We are out there to win and we believe we can,” Sullivan said.
So far, UR has enjoyed success in achieving goals, and the women hope to continue that trend. “So far this year we have broken through all the barriers and done a number of things our team hasn’t done in a while,” Fish said. “We are proud of our accomplishments but we still want to keep pushing.”
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