The women’s basketball team has picked up right where they left off, continuing last season’s dominating run to the NCAA Final Four with a 4-0 record and the Chuck Resler Tournament title. The Yellowjackets, who concluded last year’s 26-4 season with an appearance at the Final Four, were ranked as preseason number four in the nation at www.d3hoops.com.
Confident in his team’s success, Head Coach Jim Scheible places the Yellowjackets right where they should be at this point early in the season. “We are about where we hoped we would be after four games,” Scheible said. “We have room for improvement, but are headed in the right direction.”
Comprising the core of the squad are junior forward Kelly Wescott, junior forward/center Megan Fish, and sophomore guard/forward Jessie Graham. All three have led the team offensively with an average of over 10 points per game. Standing out defensively has been senior guard Erika Smith with 10 steals and senior forward Shannon Higgins, who leads the team with 30 rebounds.
UR opened the season with a rematch with Ithaca College, whom the Yellowjackets beat in last year’s Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament. UR managed to stave off the number 19 ranked Bombers 67-46, thanks to 13 point efforts by Wescott and Fish and valuable contribution from the bench. The team’s depth was displayed as every rostered player made an appearance opening night.
Advancing to the final round of the Chuck Resler Tournament, the Yellowjackets scored a big win over Texas Lutheran University, barraging the Bulldogs with a 60 percent shooting percentage in the field in the first half towards a 71-48 walloping. The win marks the fourth consecutive year UR has won the title.
After an eight day furlough, the Yellowjackets were back in action as they traveled to Hartwick College. The players returned from Thanksgiving break without missing a beat, crushing Hartwick 72-45. Fish scored a career high 18 points, hitting nine of 13 from the field. Wescott scored double digits and Higgins supplied 10 rebounds.
UR hit its first major obstacle Tuesday night in Elmira, as they rallied from a tense situation to overcome SUNY Elmira 90-66. “Elmira has been the biggest challenge for us so far,” Scheible said. “They put up a very stiff test on the road for us and we were only able to pull away in the second half.”
The Yellowjackets were down 44-39 at the half after shooting a poor 31 percent during the first 20 minutes, leaving the outcome up in the air. “The game was up in the air until the last 10 minutes.” Scheible said.
Striking back, Rochester mounted an offensive outburst, going on a 32-9 run over the first 11 minutes of the second half to turn a deficit into a 71-53 lead to avoid a possible upset. Leading offensively was Wescott with a team high 21 points and Smith with a season high of 16 points.
Looking ahead, Scheible sees a need to focus on a more consistent offense as well as defending and rebounding as a team unit.
“We would like to see a consistently high level of play that would allow us to challenge the top teams in our conference – of which we hope to be one – and be able to win on the road,” he said.
Schloss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org