In the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on March 3, the Ithaca College women’s basketball team cruised past the La Roche University Redhawks in a 58–42 victory.
The South Hill squad got off to a strong start, opening the first quarter with a 7-point scoring run before the Redhawks were finally able to find the net just over halfway through the quarter. Five of the Bombers’ seven initial points were put up by junior guard Hannah Polce. Scoring opportunities were slim for the Bombers for the remainder of the period, but they managed to take the frame with a 14–8 lead.
The Bombers opened the second frame with outstanding ball movement, but they continued to struggle to find the net, forcing the team to find refuge on the foul line. With evenly matched athleticism, the Redhawks quickly worked to close the gap, bringing the score to 14–12 after two successful layups.
The Bombers began to find some rhythm after Polce netted an easy layup off her own rebound, quickly followed by senior guard Camryn Coffey less than a minute later.
The remainder of the quarter was slow heading into the intermission, seeing plenty of transitional turnovers from both teams before first-year student guard Zoraida Icabalceta drained her first 3-point attempt of the competition with just over four minutes remaining.
After stretching the deficit to seven points with less than a minute on the clock, Icabalceta decided the gap was not quite wide enough, managing to put up a final layup with only two seconds left in the frame and bringing the score to 26–17 to close out the half.
Following the break, it was the Redhawks who found the net first, but the Bombers were quick to answer back after graduate student forward Lindsey Albertelli expertly navigated the Redhawks’ defense to put up the first points of the quarter.
However, it was not until later in the third quarter that the Bombers picked up the intensity and found motion in the offense that was finally paying off. Despite equal possessions throughout the frame, the Bombers dominated from inside the paint, outscoring the Redhawks 15–9.
An outstanding 3-pointer from Coffey with just over two minutes remaining pushed the momentum for the Bombers, sending the competition into the final frame with a score of 41–26.
The Bombers’ solid defensive play held the Redhawks scoreless for the first three minutes of competition in the fourth quarter, but the Redhawks snuck in some valuable offensive opportunities to keep the game within their reach.
Despite near-equal scoring within the quarter — with the Bombers leading only 17–16 — it was not quite enough for the Redhawks to catch up by the time the buzzer sounded, securing a victory and advancement into the second round for the Bombers.
Head coach Dan Raymond said that although he is thrilled to have a tournament win under his belt, the team’s work is not done just yet.
“Our competition during the postseason tends to have a different playing style than what we usually see over the course of the year,” Raymond said. “I thought our players adjusted really well and I’m pleased overall, but obviously there are still some things we’d like to improve upon.”
Senior forward Emily Dorn, who was recently named Liberty League Player of the Year, said that as her team advances further into the tournament, it will be most important to uphold the right mindset.
“Most of all, I think we just need to stay composed and want it more than anybody,” Dorn said. “It all comes down to controlling the controllables, and I think we’ll be ready.”
The Bombers will survive and advance to host the Marietta College Pioneers in the round of 32 at 7:15 p.m. March 4 in the Ben Light Gymnasium.