On the heels of a demoralizing 74-43 loss to the undefeated Emory University Eagles the week before, the Yellowjackets returned to their winning ways on Friday, Jan. 17 when they edged Case Western Reserve University, 55-53.
In front of a packed Palestra crowd for the team’s first home game of 2014, UR used a balanced offensive effort to upend the UAA rival Spartans. Junior guard Ally Zywicki led the team with 12 points (11 in the final 4:45 of play) while senior center Loren Wagner had 10 points, 12 rebounds and classmate Danielle McNabb added 11 points, six rebounds.
After struggling to make shots throughout the first half — and falling behind 35-22 in that span — the Yellowjackets emerged from the locker room a different team, going on a 10-1 run over the first six minutes of play to come within four points of Case.
Freshman Sarah Kaminsky led the scoring effort during the surge, scoring four of her eight points to bring the home team within striking distance.
The teams traded buckets throughout the second half until 4:23, when McNabb’s lay-in put the ‘Jackets up 43-42. The home team would not trail again, as UR saw its lead grow to as large as seven points, with just 51 seconds to play.
Like their adversaries, however, the Spartans would not go down without a fight. Case responded with a surge of its own, as some clutch 3-point shooting courtesy of Case’s Brooke Orcutt and Jessica McCoy reeled the ‘Jackets back in and tied the game, 53-53 with 14 seconds left.
That’s when Zywicki stepped in. After her team took a timeout, the 5’6” guard drove to the basket on the following play and made the game-ending layup.
Two days later, the Yellowjackets found themselves in the Spartans’ shoes, as this time it was the opposition that staged the come-from-behind win in dramatic fashion. Again playing host to a UAA adversary, the ‘Jackets suffered a stinging blow at the hands of the Carnegie Mellon Tartans, who bested the home team, 71-70.
Katie Weiner led the ‘Jackets with a career high 15 points and 10 rebounds. Weiner also had 16 free throw attempts in the game, tying her for the second most in school history. McNabb and Zywicki again contributed considerably to the scoring effort, scoring 13 and 12 points respectively.
After leading by as much as seven points late in the first half, the ‘Jackets watched their lead disappear thanks to strong shooting by CMU, including a 12-1 spurt late to put the visitors up 36-32 with 1:28 to play in the half. UR battled back, as McNabb hit a three-pointer and Emily Lewis a jumper to regain the lead at the half, 37-36.
The second half was defined by back-and-forth scoring — especially during the final three minutes of play, when each team regained the lead three times.
With under a minute to play, Zywicki nailed a crucial 3-pointer that gave the home team a one-point lead, 70-69.
Yet it was CMU’s Liza Otto who would have the final say, as she sank a 12-footer off the left baseline with 34 seconds on the clock to regain the lead. McNabb’s 18-foot attempt with nine seconds left and Zywicki’s last-ditch effort from half court both fell short, giving the Tartans the win.
With the victory over Case and loss to CMU, the ‘Jackets moves to 7-7, 1-2 in the UAA.
The team returns to conference play on Friday, Jan. 24 when they travel to Waltham, MA to take on Brandeis University.
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2014