The UR women’s basketball team started out the weekend strong with a 58-55 overtime win over the Golden Bears of Washington University in St. Louis. The game left the fans on the edge of their seats with 13 lead changes and 11 tie scores. The two teams were neck and neck throughout the first half and went into the second half in a 21-21 tie.

Thanks to four points by junior forward Alex Porter, UR got ahead early in the second half and held a 27-24 lead, but the Bears pushed right back, going on a 6-point run that made the score 30-27 with 12:47 left to play in regulation. The lead continued to bounce back and forth between the ‘Jackets and the Bears and, at the end of regulation play, the score was knotted at 46-46, courtesy of two free-throw shots by Wash U with nine seconds left to play.

The Yellowjackets controlled overtime, keeping the lead during the entire five minutes. Junior forward Julie Marriott and junior guard Johanna McNelis solidified the win when they combined to score four points off free throws in the final 23 seconds of the extra period.

Porter was hands down the star of the game with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot. Marriott also had an impressive game, tallying six points and 10 rebounds, and freshman center Courtney Donovan contributed six points and four rebounds. Freshman guard Melissa Alwardt, who was named to the University Athletic Association’s Honor Roll for the week of Feb. 5, scored five points and grabbed five rebounds for the ‘Jackets.

UR continued its winning ways on Sunday afternoon when it defeated the University of Chicago Maroons, 54-48. The ‘Jackets jumped ahead early in the first half and continued to control the floor, at times leading by as many as nine points. Ultimately, they ended the half ahead, 27-22. UR also came out strong in the second half, with Marriott increasing the lead to 33-22 by scoring six straight points. The tide soon changed when Chicago went on an 18-4 run that gave them a 3-point lead with 10:38 left to play in the game.

The ‘Jackets continued to struggle after the Maroons’ run, failing to score a field goal for seven minutes. The Yellowjackets remained resilient, however, and regained the lead when Marriott made a layup at 4:43 to put the ‘Jackets up by two. Two steals by junior guard Helen Baroody led to another five points, and UR increased its lead to seven with 3:53 left. Chicago rallied back, getting within three points with 21 seconds left, but good free-throw shooting by Baroody and Marriott gave the ‘Jackets a 6-point lead that they sustained until the final buzzer.

Marriott, who was the game’s leading scorer, had a very impressive 19 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. Porter also turned in a good game, almost tallying the double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Both Marriott and Porter have been excelling this season and have been major components to the ‘Jacket’s success. The pair leads the team in field goal percentage and points per game, with Marriott averaging 12.7 points per game and Porter averaging 11.2 points per game.

The two also lead the team in rebounds, with Porter and Marriott averaging 7.8 and 6.1 rebounds per game, respectively. Although Porter and Marriott are having very impressive years, there is no doubt that every player has brought her game to the court this year and contributed to UR’s one-loss record and the No. 7 ranking.

The freshman class also has been huge for the ‘Jackets, in particular the play of Alwardt and Donovan. In six of the last nine games, Alwardt has been in double-digits in scoring and has proved to be a reliable spark off the bench.

Donovan has also contributed, generally coming in to relieve Marriott. Donovan is third on the team in rebounds, averaging 4.4 per game and has been big in the middle, contributing to UR’s smothering defense.

The two wins this weekend for the ‘Jackets solidified the women’s current first-place spot in the UAA. The women are 7-0 in conference and 17-1 overall. Currently, the Yellowjackets hold the lead over Wash U and Brandeis University, who are each tied at No. 2 in the UAA with 5-2 conference records.

The women have a very tough schedule coming up, including four straight conference road games. Marriott acknowledges that the next couple of weekends will be tough, but she is looking forward to the challenge.

“As we move into UAA play – the meat of our season – games seem to come down to defense and the will to win,” Marriott said. “The next two weekends on the road will be tough, but also a great chance to prove how good we really are.”

UR will see Wash U and Chicago again for a rematch this coming weekend and will hopefully be able to stay strong for another set of wins. The following weekend, the women will again be on the road, taking on Brandeis at 6 p.m. on Friday and the No. 21 New York University Violets at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The ‘Jackets beat both NYU and Brandeis earlier this season. The victory against NYU came when the Violets were the No. 3 team in the country and catapulted UR into the top-10 ranks.

Hamilton is a member of the class of 2011.

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