When facing a slump mid-season, a team has a decision to make – to try and get through the rest of the season or to play every game to win.
This weekend, UR broke through their four-loss slump with two wins against University Athletic Association opponents Emory University and Case Western Reserve University.
After almost a month of recovery, senior Kelly Wescott stepped onto the Palestra court ready to play in her first game since her wrist injury against New York University on Jan. 9.
“I think our emphasis this weekend was to play together as a team and to play to win,” junior Jessie Graham said. “Previously, I think we lost sight of those things, but last weekend we came to play.”
The Emory Eagles took an early lead on Friday night with a three-pointer in the opening seconds of the game. That was the only time in the entire game they would be ahead of the Yellowjackets.
Graham responded with a three-pointer of her own to tie up the game 3-3, and it was only a taste of the sharp-shooting performance Graham would give during the game.
The Eagles tied the game at 7-7 just under the 15-minute mark, and a jumper by sophomore Megan Krebbeks sparked a 14-4 UR run.
In the next five minutes, UR extended the lead to 10 points with three-pointers from Graham and sophomore Catherine Adams and free throws from both senior Megan Fish and sophomore Danielle Muller.
At the 9:09 mark the Yellowjackets were leading Emory 21-11, but the Eagles were not going to make it too easy so early in the game.
In under two minutes, Emory nailed three quick baskets, getting within four points of UR. The score remained close for the rest of the half.
The Yellowjackets went into halftime leading 36-32.
UR did not cool down after the break, and Graham came out on fire, nailing her third three-pointer of the game, 19 seconds into the second half.
There was no looking back for the Yellowjackets, scoring 47 points – almost twice as many as the Eagles’ 24 points.
Graham hit four three-pointers in the second half, totaling six for the entire game.
Graham is continually improving her shot from beyond the arc, and her six threes tied the Palestra record and the UR single-game record. She also achieved a career-high 22 points.
The Emory win was a team effort, with 11 UR players putting points on the board. Wescott and Adams also had double digits, with 15 and 13 points respectively.
Sophomores Emily Bango and Emily Lyons kept their heads up for teammates and dished out six assists each.
The consecutive, solid wins against Emory gave UR momentum as they headed into Sunday’s game against CWRU – a team that defeated the Yellowjackets just eight days ago by only eight points.
Similar to their previous meeting, CWRU and UR remained close in the opening minutes. The teams exchanged the lead three times in the beginning of the first half.
The Yellowjackets took a time out at the 14-minute mark, behind the Spartans 9-6.
Something sparked the team in that time out, because once they returned to the court, the Yellowjackets took control of the game and never let go.
In the remainder of the half, UR went on a 32-16 run. They pushed the ball to the hoop, getting to the free-throw line 13 times and making 10 of them.
Going into halftime leading the Spartans 38-23, the Yellowjackets continued to attack the shaken CWRU team.
UR extended the lead to as much as 25 points and ultimately secured a 70-54 victory.
“Against Case, we had a lot more energy,” senior Ashley Latimer said. “We were more focused and more intense. We played very well together and never gave up. Case didn’t get a rest for the entire 40 minutes, and we eventually wore them down.”
Three Yellowjackets reached double figures. Muller led the team with 15 points. Wescott and Fish both scored 11 points.
UR dominated CWRU on the boards, out-rebounding them 50-38. Muller had a game-high nine rebounds.
The win over the Spartans marked the third victory in a row for the Yellowjackets, bringing their UAA record to 4-5 and their overall record to 11-8.
It was also Head Coach Jim Scheible’s 100th victory, bringing his record to 100-58 in his six years at UR.
In 14 years as a coach, Scheible has a career record of 243-129.
“Given that we have a lot of our UAA schedule left, we will have some big games ahead,” Latimer said. “We’ll practice hard and be ready to play.”
The Yellowjackets have two big games coming up at home. They face league rivals NYU in the Palestra on Feb. 11.
Two days later they will face Brandeis University.
These will be the final regular season matchups against NYU and Brandeis – the Yellowjackets lost to both teams previously this season.
Ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the league, respectively, Brandeis and NYU will be two of the toughest matchups of the year.
The Yellowjackets are currently ranked fifth in the UAA, with all five of their remaining regular season games against UAA teams.
UR will be looking to end the season strongly against some of the best teams in their league, so come out and support the women’s team this weekend.
McLean can be reached at email@example.com.