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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Women's Basketball Dealt Blow by Norwich

Author: Emily Berlanstein
Staff Writer

While the majority of Middlebury students were welcoming 2002 in style, whether at home or on vacation, the women's basketball team rang in the New Year here in snowy Vermont, with practice. The Panthers returned to Middlebury on Jan. 30, and have since been preparing for their upcoming league contests. They recently played several games against non-conference foes, including Springfield, St. Lawrence and Norwich. Suffering their first two losses of the season in the past two weeks, the Panthers appear eager to claw their way back to the top in the upcoming weeks.

On Sunday, Jan. 6, Middlebury suffered a heartbreaking loss to Springfield College, despite strong efforts from Alexis Batten '04, who scored a career high 19 points, Wesley Hyatt '03, with 15 and Kristin Hanley '03, with 12. The Pride was simply on fire at the end of the first half, turning Middlebury's early 19-5 lead around to 28-24, in their advantage. In the second half, the teams found themselves in a tie situation six times, but ultimately a pair of three-pointers allowed Springfield to triumph behind a final score of 65-63. The Panthers felt that they executed very well at certain moments, but at other times let down their guard. The Springfield in-your-face, denial defense disrupted Middlebury's offensive flow and allowed them to gain an offensive advantage.

Last week was one of ups and downs for the Panthers, who, with smooth transitions and cool confidence were able to manage a second-half win over St. Lawrence on Tuesday. Middlebury ended the first half, with a 14-0 run and carried this momentum through the second half, emerging with a 55-48 victory. Hyatt and Hanley combined for nearly half of Middlebury's points, with 10 each. Megan McCosker '02 was a force under the boards, with nine rebounds. Batten reflects, "it was a game where no player had an exceptional performance, but it was through teamwork and contribution from everyone that allowed us to pull through with the win."

On Thursday, the Panthers continued this inconsistent trend, accumulating an early 13- point lead, but ultimately falling to Norwich, 67-53. Norwich retaliated at the end of the first half and opened the second half with an 11-2 run. Batten was once again an asset for Middlebury, contributing 17 points and 7 rebounds. Hanley, with 10 points, was also a force for the Panthers. According to Batten, the Panthers "started out strong and thought the game was going to be easier than it actually was." Unfortunately, Norwich's best player got on a roll and the Panthers "allowed her too many opportunities." Another unfortunate factor that contributed to the loss was Hyatt's inability to play due to illness.

Recently, the Panthers have focused on playing at a consistent level. They have realized their potential by experiencing great accomplishments, but have also found that the common cliché, "there's always room for improvement," applies to any successful team. This weekend, as they head into league play with games at Trinity and Amherst, Middlebury hopes to dominate the New England Small College Athletic Conference by learning from their previous mistakes.


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