Women’s Basketball Bounces Back Against Kalamazoo
After a tough 54-68 conference loss against Wittenberg University last Saturday, the Oberlin College women’s basketball squad knew they had some aspects of their game to improve upon before Monday’s match-up.
Oberlin struggled in the first half with 19 turnovers, numerous fouls and a handful of missed shots against the steadfast Wittenberg team. Despite the Yeowomen’s inability to put it all together, the score stayed relatively close (10-20) at halftime.
In the second half Oberlin continued to struggle, and the Tigers of Wittenberg University capitalized on many of Oberlin’s mistakes. Wittenberg took advantage of its superb three point shooting and extended its lead on the Yeowomen by 23 points with two and a half minutes remaining in the match.
Saturday proved to be Oberlin’s first conference loss in the NCAC this season. However, there were a number of outstanding performances. Junior Roniesha Kinney and senior captain Jessie Oram led Oberlin in scoring on the day. Kinney scored 15 points and grabbed seven boards, while Oram trailed with 14 points, six rebounds and two assists. Sophomore guard Alyssa Clark contributed with ten points, six rebounds and two block shots. Sophomore Kristin Donawerth led the Tigers in scoring with 20 points and three assists.
Coming out of the Wittenberg game, the Yeowomen knew they had to make some small changes in their play before their next competition. With only one day of practice before Monday’s game, the Yeowomen worked hard and took to Phillips Gym with a determined drive to take on the non-conference Hornets of Kalamazoo College.
Monday night’s game was the first time in school history that Oberlin has faced Kalamazoo, so the stakes were high for the Yeowomen. The match started off slowly with Yeowomen putting up a number of turnovers, missed lay-ups and shots.
Kalamazoo went ahead by 12 points with 1:28 remaining in the first half. Oberlin did not score in the last five minutes of the first half and was down 12-24 heading to the locker room. In the second half the Yeowomen came out charged, and would immediately go on an impressive 23-3 run.
Flying around the court and stepping up on defense, Oberlin began with the hustle of Clark, sophomore Kira Rivera and first-year Monica Zell. Within the first couple of minutes in the second half, Clark assisted Zell for a fast break lay-up followed by a steal and lay-up by Clark.
A few minutes later Oram scored six straight baskets putting Oberlin within nine points of Kalamazoo. Both teams went back and forth scoring, but Kalamazoo stayed ahead by as many as 12 points, boasting a 38-26 lead with nine minutes remaining.
Oberlin began to gain momentum and confidence as the crowd went crazy and the Yeowomen found themselves down by six with 40-46 with four minutes remaining in the match. Clark was fouled after driving to the basket but would only make one free throw to pull Oberlin to within five points of their component.
Coach Champion stepped up the defense on the Hornets with a full court press trap, allowing Kalamazoo to turn the ball over. With 3:32 remaining in the match Oram scored a basket, assisted by Clark to put Oberlin even closer at 43-46.
The next possession Oram single-handedly took to the hole making the score 45-46. With just two and a half minutes remaining in the game, Oram answered again, and for the first time Oberlin took the lead 47-46.
After two free throws by Oram, with just 1:08 remaining in the game, first-year Kayla Brandt came up with a huge steal, followed by two more free throws by Oram, and Oberlin took its biggest lead of the night 51-47.
With 45 seconds remaining, Brandt made a big rebound off a missed Kalamazoo shot and set up Oram for two more free throws, giving Oberlin a non-conference victory 54-47.
Monday’s impressive game against Kalamazoo was a big victory for Coach Champion and the Yeowomen as they faced two of their very own alums. Head Women’s Basketball Coach Tes Johnson for Kalamazoo was once an assistant coach at Oberlin College a few years back. Joining her was Assistant Coach Nicole Burford, a former player for the Yeowomen.
Oram put up a handful of good stats for the Yeowomen with 26 points, ten rebounds, two blocked shots, and dominated the free throw line 6-6. Clark notched ten points, five assists, and seven rebounds while Zell added seven points, two assists, and six rebounds. For the Hornets, Junior Kelsea Howel had 16 points and one assist.
Coach Champion could not stop beaming, “I am so proud of this team for the way they played in the second half, and the way they took control of the ball and the game.”
The team was in agreement, “The overall performance and team effort was great. Everyone stepped up and played with heart. We found our rhythm, executed the game plan and supported each other throughout the game,” said Kinney.
The Yeowomen get back into action on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. as they take on Ursuline College at Philips Gymnasium.