The women’s basketball team (6–1) stood tough against fifth-ranked University of Rochester (8–0), but fell just short with a 68-59 loss yesterday in Ben Light Gymnasium.
The Bombers, ranked 29th in the nation this week by d3hoops.com, led by as many as 13 points in the second half of the matchup between undefeated teams. The Yellow Jackets’ experience and composure came to the forefront in the closing minutes, however. Rochester rattled off a 15-6 run in a span of approximately four minutes to close the gap to 49-48, then pulled ahead on a layup by sophomore guard Danielle McNabb with 7:01 to play.
The Yellow Jackets would hold the lead for the rest of the game, as the Bombers appeared to run out of gas in the closing minutes. The Blue and Gold committed their 10th team foul with 3:40 remaining in the game and enabled Rochester to coast to the finish with free throws.
Senior guard Jessica Farley, who led the South Hill squad with four assists and three steals, said the team was frustrated knowing they had this game in their grasp at one point.
“I think we kind of handed this one to them,” Farley said. “We stopped playing our game and turned the ball over. We kind of freaked out when they started making shots.”
The Bombers gave the Yellow Jackets’ offense fits in the first half by winning hustle plays and clogging the passing lanes with active hands. The South Hill squad forced nine Rochester turnovers in the opening frame and employed a late 9-3 run to take a 28-22 lead into the halftime break.
Sophomore guard Kathryn Campbell recorded a double-double with 14 points and tied a career high with 10 assists. She said the Bombers were not able to force turnovers in the second half as successfully as they did in the opening 20 minutes.
“I think we stopped getting the defensive stops that we were getting in the beginning of the game,” Campbell said. “We knew in order to stay in the game and beat them we were going to have to get stops on defense.”
Senior guard Jacqueline Shinall led the Blue and Gold with a career-high 16 points, including a number of clutch three-pointers that kept the Bombers in the game. Sophomore forward Jennifer Escobido scored 11 points in the paint on 5 of 6 shooting, while junior forward Devin Shea added eight points, three assists and two blocks.
Rochester Head Coach Jim Scheible said the Bombers gave his team one of their toughest tests of its young season.
“They’re a really dynamic offensive team,” he said. “I thought they really moved well on offense and really challenged us defensively. That’s the most points we’ve given up all year, and we had a hard time guarding them.”
Scheible also said the South Hill squad’s double teams on defense made it much more difficult for Rochester’s main low-post scoring threat, senior forward Madeline Korber, to be effective.
“They were collapsing really quickly and doubling in the post, and we had to play faster to make their guards stay on the perimeter longer,” Sheible said. “Eventually we got some better seals inside that led to quick open shoulder layups.”
While it was a tough loss to digest, Farley said the Bombers’ confidence should be higher than it was prior to the game.
“We knew we could play with the top teams after beating Cortland and St. Lawrence, but this really opens our eyes and makes us realize we really can play with the top ten teams,” she said.
The Bombers will finish their four-game homestand when they host Baruch College in a 1 p.m. game Saturday in Ben Light Gymnasium.