By John Bernstein

Sports Editor

With two wins this week, the Yellowjackets are finally rounding into the elite postseason shape that powered them to last year’s NCAA Final Four and established the squad as a national powerhouse. However, the reason for this shift in both physical and mental aptitude is not as simple as it sounds.

While the yellow and blue beat two accomplished University Athletic Association rivals in Brandeis University and New York University this week, the ‘Jackets’ recent progression toward championship season form is more aptly described by the way the women brutally wiped out the teams, after struggling to keep pace with these same two squads just one week ago.

In that three-day road trip, the ‘Jackets went 1-1, falling by a double-digit point differential to NYU and just squeezing by Brandeis as UR slipped into third place in the UAA and watched its national stature fall considerably.

In this week’s rebound, the Yellowjackets of old took to the court as they embarrassed the Violets and Judges, outscoring the opposition 144-97.

The first of these blowout victories came on Friday, Feb. 4. A packed Palestra crowd turned out to watch the home team attempt to erase a stinging memory from last week, during which NYU ran over the Yellowjackets 82-69.

It was a quiet night for senior guard Melissa Alwardt, UR’s lead scorer who, in a rare event, put up zero points. However, sophomore Kristyn Wright was more than ready for this uncommon occurance, and seamlessly stepped right in to fill Alwardt’s shoes.

Wright, though a precision sharpshooter, had never been one of UR’s top-scorers until Friday, when she led all scorers with a career-high 19 points. Nine of those points came off three-pointers.

The junior forward tandem of Jodie Luther and Madeline Korber also raised their game to account for the gaping hole left by Alwardt, Luther tallying 12 points and nine rebounds, while Korber poured in another 13 points for UR.
As a team, the Yellowjackets attacked the visitors with a 21-0 run right before halftime, which seemed to cripple the Violets both on the scoreboard and mentally — NYU would come no closer than within 16 points throughout the second half as UR ran away to a 64-46 victory.

If the NYU game was a blowout, UR’s rematch with Brandeis was a downright massacre, as the Yellowjackets manhandled the visitors, 80-51.

Alwardt returned to form and led the ‘Jackets with 16 points. After a slow start in which the Judges actually led through much of the first half, the home team found its shooting and proceeded to burn Brandeis with an unheard-of 49.1 percent shooting from the field. Add in a first half 20-2 run and a second half 10-0 streak, and it all measured up to the dominant Yellowjacket win.

The women take on University of Chicago, the UAA leader that is undefeated in league play this season, on Friday, Feb. 11. The game, which is set to take place at the Palestra at 6 p.m., will rely to an extent on the fan turnout. As any athlete who’s ever played on an opponent’s turf knows, performing well while surrounded and jeered against by many voices at once can be no easy feat. Though poised and capable of taking down the Maroons, UR could use all the vocal support from the home crowd the Palestra will hold.

Bernstein is a member of
the class of 2014.



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