The Yellowjacket women’s basketball team entered the 2007 season with high expectations after returning 11 key members of a team that advanced to the NCAA Division III Sweet Sixteen last year.
The No. 14 ranked ‘Jackets opened the season with a dominant 82-54 win against Clarkson University in the opening round of the Chuck Resler Tournament.
Senior forward Danielle Mueller led the ‘Jackets’ balanced scoring attack with 12 points, including hitting two of three from behind the arc. All but two of the 16 members of the team scored in the blowout victory.
A huge key to the ‘Jackets’ success came on the defensive side of the ball. They limited Clarkson to just 30 percent shooting from the field and forced an astounding 24 turnovers. The team also dominated the boards, grabbing 51 rebounds as opposed to the Golden Knights’ 29.
A significant test came the next night in the championship game, where the ‘Jackets faced No. 1 ranked University of Scranton. The ‘Jackets had revenge in their mind since the Lady Royals were the team to send UR home in the Sweet Sixteen of last year’s NCAA Tournament.
The game got off to a slow start for the ‘Jackets as the Lady Royals played exceptional defense and limited UR to just 33 percent shooting from the floor. Scranton held a 32-25 lead going into halftime.
At the start of the second half, sophomore forward Alex Porter stepped up in a big way. After recording just three points and five rebounds in the first half, Porter scored 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the team the rest of the way.
Her contributions, along with the sharp shooting of Mueller (team high 17 points) and fellow senior guard Megan Krebbeks (14 points), allowed the ‘Jackets to outscore the Lady Royals 44-19 in the second half alone and win the game convincingly, 69-51. Senior point guard Emily Bango ran the offense well and led the team with seven assists.
Porter finished the game with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing a career high 20 rebounds. She was named MVP of the tournament.
Three days later, the Yellowjackets traveled to Buffalo to take on No. 24 ranked Medaille College Mavericks.
Similar to their last game against Scranton, the ‘Jackets were playing a team they faced in last year’s NCAA Tournament. UR beat the Mavs in the second round.
The Yellowjackets got off to a sluggish start, letting the scrappy Medaille team get as much as a 10 point lead at one point in the first half. Medaille went into halftime with a slim lead over UR, 24-19, in what would end up being a very low scoring defensive battle.
The ‘Jackets overcame poor shooting and 19 turnovers throughout the game to cut into Medaille’s lead in the second half. There were eight lead changes in the last four minutes of the game, with the most important lead change coming thanks to Krebbeks with just 1.9 seconds left in the game.
After senior forward Emily Lyons sank a free throw to tie the game at 46 apiece with 22 seconds left in the game, the ‘Jackets forced a Medaille turnover and recovered possession.
With time winding down on the clock, Mueller found Krebbeks for an open jumper, which she sank as time expired. The Yellowjackets won 48-46.
Krebbeks netted a career high 18 points on 9-19 shooting. She was the only Yellowjacket to shoot above 40 percent from the floor in the game. As a team, the ‘Jackets shot only 28 percent from the field, but solid defense (23 Medaille turnovers), along with the sweet shooting of Krebbeks, saved the day for UR.
The Yellowjackets had a nice five day rest before playing their next game at Ithaca College last Sunday.
UR was in serious danger of digging itself another hole in the first half for the third straight game. With 3:28 left in the first half and the ‘Jackets trailing 26-19, freshman guard Jessica Mastronardi checked in and sparked a 12-1 run that gave UR a 31-27 lead at the half.
Mastronardi hit all four of her shots, including one three pointer, during the rally. She finished the game with nine points in just eight minutes.
The Yellowjackets never trailed after that and ended up winning the contest 69-58, improving their record to 4-0. The team shot much better than in previous games, hitting 46 percent of their shots.
Sophomore center Julie Marriott finished with nearly a double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Porter contributed 11 points and seven rebounds. The team got solid contributions from their bench thanks to Lyons (nine points, four rebounds) and Mastronardi.
On Tuesday, the team played their third straight away game as they took on Elmira College. Led by significant contributions from their bench play, the Yellowjackets (5-0) extended their six point halftime lead into an 18 point win, 70-52.
Sophomore guard Helen Baroody dropped 11 points and senior forward Emily Lyons led the team with 14 points while also grabbing seven rebounds.
The women’s team is ranked 4th in the latest national rankings by D3hoops.com and will travel to Pittsburg this Saturday for their first UAA league game against Carnegie Melon University.
Brackney is a member of the class of 2007.