The women’s basketball team (22–4) advanced to the Empire 8 Conference Championship game for the fourth consecutive year after a dominating 72-43 victory against St. John Fisher College (11–15) yesterday.
The semi-final matchup had the makings of a dogfight, as St. John Fisher took an early 9-7 advantage. While the Bombers struggled to hit their outside shots, they relied on the strength of their stifling man-to-man defense to gain a 32-16 first half advantage.
Their defensive effort grounded the Cardinal’s offense, and fueled the Bombers to a 17-4 run that consumed nearly 10 minutes of the first half. Sophomore point guard Elisabeth Wentlent said the Blue and Gold’s defensive effort helped set up each offensive possession.
“All year our key has been defense transitioning to offense, so once we got it going on the defensive end and started getting stops, that’s when we turned it up,” she said.
Wentlent was one of seven Bombers to record at least two steals in the game en route to forcing 25 St. John Fisher turnovers. Ithaca’s depth allowed them to play an aggressive defense, which appeared to wear down the Cardinals.
Senior captain Jessica Farley said the team’s depth was a factor in getting the win.
“We always have fresh legs coming off the bench and when we sub, there is never a down moment,” Farley said.
Contributions off the bench allowed Ithaca to contain St. John Fisher freshman point guard Portia Velasco, whose blazing quickness gave the Bombers trouble the last time the two teams met.
Bombers Head Coach Dan Raymond said the team looked to keep her out of the paint area.
The Bombers host the tournament final at 4 p.m. today in Ben Light Gymnasium against familiar foe Hartwick College. The second seeded Hawks defeated third-ranked Stevens Institute of Technology in the later semifinal matchup by a score of 72-49.