During the beginning of winter break and the start of the new year, the women’s basketball team enjoyed three home victories against rivals Rochester Institute of Technology, New York University and Brandeis University, the latter two being University Athletic Association league opponents. All three wins were by a margin of 10 points or higher, and the ‘Jackets improved their undefeated record to 11 games.
The 31st annual J.P. Morgan Chase Tournament followed, with the Yellowjackets entering the tournament as one of the top teams in the nation and the No. 1 in the local tournament.
In the first round of the Chase, the ‘Jackets were matched up against Nazareth College and had no problems handling the Golden Flyers, as they cruised to a 70-56 victory. A balanced scoring attack led by senior forward Danielle Muller (14 points) helped advance the team to the quarterfinals where they played SUNY Geneseo.
Muller again led the Yellowjackets in scoring against Geneseo, this time registering a double-double effort with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Muller earned the majority of her points from the free throw line, where she hit 13 of her 14 attempts. The win improved the ‘Jackets’ record to 13-0 and set the stage for what turned out to be a great championship game against SUNY Brockport.
The Yellowjackets seemed well on their way to a blow-out win in the final of the tournament as they dominated the entire first half of play and went into halftime with a 41-21 advantage.
As good as the first half was for the ‘Jackets, the second half was literally a role reversal for both squads, as Brockport went on several runs to score 41 points themselves and hold the ‘Jackets to only 21 points in the second half. UR nearly lost the game, but Muller hit a pair of free throws at the end of regulation to tie the game and send it into overtime.
During the first overtime, both teams struggled to score. Each team could only muster six points apiece, and a second overtime was necessary to decide the game.
Down 74-75 with a minute left, sophomore forward Alex Porter was fouled and sent to the free throw line. She came through in the clutch, hitting both of her attempts and giving the ‘Jackets a one point lead. A Muller layup with only 24 seconds remaining sealed the win as the ‘Jackets came out on top 78-75.
Muller and Porter finished the game with 24 and 21 points, respectively. Porter also led the team with 10 rebounds.
The victory is the team’s fourth Chase Championship in the last five years as they continue to dominate women’s basketball in the Rochester area.
Muller was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after averaging 20.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest. Porter was a First Team All-Tournament selection.
Fresh off their Chase Tournament win, the women hit the road for their annual UAA Midwest trip to St. Louis and Chicago to take on Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago.
After winning the Chase, the ‘Jackets were ranked number two nationally by www.D3hoops.com and were seemingly unstoppable. The Washington University in St. Louis Bears, however, proved to be a devastatingly tough opponent for the team.
After lighting up the Chase tournament with great shooting, the ‘Jackets hit a serious cold shooting spell as they connected on only 11 field goals out of 53 attempts, for a dismal field goal percentage of 23 percent.
The Bears didn’t shoot much better themselves (17-54), but did significantly better at the free throw line (21-27) than the Yellowjackets (12-21), en route to a 57-36 blowout win.
The ice cold shooting handed the ‘Jackets their first loss of the season, and their record fell to 14-1. The team looked to bounce back as they traveled on to Chicago for yet another tough road test against the undefeated Maroons.
The ‘Jackets got another reminder that playing on the road is much tougher than playing at home, as they took their second loss in a row at the hands of Chicago. After trading buckets for the first few minutes of the game, the Maroons jumped out to a 20-10 lead at the ten minute mark of the first half, and never trailed the rest of the way. Chicago would go into halftime with a 15 point lead, 35-20.
The Yellowjackets’ inability to put the ball in the hoop hurt them again as they could only come up with 20 points in the first half as a result of making only 6 of 30 shots from the field (20 percent).
The team rallied in the second half, thanks to the sharp shooting of freshman guard Jessica Mastronardi who hit a series of jumpers to bring the margin down to eight with seven minutes to play.
Senior guard Meg Krebbeks hit three straight three pointers from the top of the key to help the effort and bring the margin down to five with one minute remaining, but that was as close as it would get.
Krebbeks finished the game with a team high 16 points, hitting four of seven from downtown.
The ‘Jackets suffered their second loss of the season, and their second in as many games, to Chicago 67-60 and it resulted in the team moving down in the rankings to its current spot at number four in the nation.
The hot shooting that the ‘Jackets displayed during the Chase Tournament was offset by their cold streak over this past weekend, resulting in their two losses. The ‘Jackets will look to get back on track this coming weekend as they take on Case Western Reserve and Emory University at the Palestra. Tip-off for Friday night’s game is set for 6 p.m.
Brackney is a member of the class of 2007.