It took more than 30 minutes, but the Ithaca College women’s basketball team found its groove in a 64–48 win over the Union College Dutchwomen on the team’s Cancer Awareness Night on Feb. 3.
Heading into the final frame, the Bombers were only up by three and struggling against the 6–12 Dutchwomen. A dominant final frame, including a 14–4 run over the final 4:35, gave the Bombers a blowout win over their Liberty League rivals.
The team practiced for the game wearing special warmup shirts, with the backs having a spot for each athlete to write the name of a friend or family member with cancer. Senior guard Natalie Smith said it is something the team does every year and she is glad the coaching staff helped the athletes put it together.
“It’s something that everyone on the team really likes to do, so we motivated our coaches every year to have it,” Smith said.
The Bombers saw the return of a few players after only suiting up nine in a 59–39 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Jan. 28. Notably, they got back big minutes from graduate student guard Cara Volpe, who had not played since Jan. 21, and graduate student forward Lindsey Albertelli, who had been out since Jan. 20.
Neither Volpe nor Albertelli had particularly big games on the offensive side — both notched just seven points — but put up seven and five rebounds, respectively.
In a first quarter similar to several recent games, the Bombers simply could not get going, taking a 13–12 lead on a pair of free throws by graduate student forward Brady Lynch. The second frame was not much better as Volpe and Albertelli were still knocking off some rust from their two weeks missed. In addition, senior forward Emily Dorn, who led the team in scoring for three of the past four games, played just 10 minutes in the half.
Going into the locker room up just 26–22, the Bombers needed to find rhythm to come out on top. Senior guard Camryn Coffey was a lone bright spot for the team, tallying seven points with a pair of makes from beyond the arc. But aside from Coffey, the team’s stars — Volpe, Albertelli, Dorn and Smith — had combined for 10 points, while junior guard Hannah Polce, normally one of the team’s better shooters, was 0-for-9 from the field.
Both teams came out of the locker room with fire, but Union got in foul trouble early on, fouling the Bombers four times in the first two minutes of the quarter. But the Dutchwomen hung on and were able to cut into the deficit, tying the game at 37, but ultimately ended the frame down 42–39.
Whatever it was that had not gone right for the Bombers up to that point, everything changed in the fourth quarter. With 7:23 to go, Smith hit a jumper to make it 46–41, then stole the ball right back. Dorn netted her first shot of the night to make it 48–41, and the Bombers simply did not look back, exploding for 16 more points over the final seven minutes.
Smith said the team knew they could win the game, but also knew something needed to change after halftime.
“We know we’re capable,” Smith said. “Let’s just go win this game, even if it’s not a good win and we’re not playing to our best, let’s just grind it out and get the win.”
The Bombers improved their record to 17–2 and 12–0 in the Liberty League but will face a tough test next as the 16–4 Skidmore College Thoroughbreds come to town for Senior Day. That game tips off at 2 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Ben Light Gymnasium.