The women’s basketball team (16–4 overall, 8–1 Empire 8) dug itself into a big hole in the first half and couldn’t compensate for it in today’s 56-53 loss to Hartwick College (16–3 overall, 8–1 Empire 8) in Ben Light Gymnasium.
The Bombers got off to a sluggish start on Senior Day, shooting just 5 of 30 from the field in the first half and trailed 28-17 at the break. Freshman forward Francesca Cotrupe said the Hawks proved they were a legitimate threat in the Empire 8 Conference after today’s game.
“Our team just started a little late with the way were playing in the first half,” Cotrupe said. “We didn’t make our shots and we didn’t execute our plays. We started to do so in the second half, but they won every possession and that’s what it comes down to in the end.”
Hartwick led by as many as 14 points with 14 minutes left to play before the South Hill squad began its attempt at a comeback. A conventional three-point play by junior forward Devin Shea with 11:15 remaining got the crowd on its feet and seemed to inspire her teammates. The Bombers went on a 19-8 run after that play and took a 47-46 lead, their first of the game, on a three-pointer by sophomore forward Jennifer Escobido.
The Hawks responded by going a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line in the final seven minutes, including two technical free throws after a foul was called on junior forward Devin Shea.
The South Hill squad got into foul trouble early in the second half and the Hawks got into the bonus for foul shots with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. Freshman guard Samantha Klie said the team could not play as a aggressively as they wanted to down the stretch.
“We think some calls didn’t go our way,” she said. “We’re always a very aggressive, pressuring team. We played some pretty good defense, and some of those calls were a little questionable.”
Shea redeemed herself after the technical foul with a late layup and a chance for a three-point play with 40 seconds remaining. Shea missed the free throw, but Escobido tipped the rebound off backboard and in the hoop to cut the lead to just one point with 38 seconds to play.
The Blue and Gold had a chance to win when they stole a Hartwick pass with six seconds remaining, but Kathryn Campbell’s outlet pass was stolen to seal the game for the Hawks.
The loss was Ithaca’s first in conference play and dropped the Bombers into a virtual tie with Hartwick for first place in the Empire 8 standings. The Hawks own a slight advantage thanks to one less defeat in their overall record.
Sophomore guard Elisabeth Wentlent said the Blue and Gold are itching for a chance to face Hartwick again come playoff time.
“We could here them cheering and yelling ‘Hartwick!’ while we downstairs in the meeting room and that really stung,” Wentlent said. “I’m really looking forward to getting back at them in the E-8’s.”
The Bombers will now embark on a five game road trip to end the regular season. Their first game is at 6 p.m. Friday against fifth-place Nazareth College.