Women find postseason berth in nail-biter

by Benjamin Clark

Oberlin's Lady Crimson, a team of the future, wrapped their season up Tuesday night as they fell prey to the Wittenberg University Tigers.

The women's basketball team roared to a win at home Saturday, edging Earlham College, 65-60. That victory propelled them into the NCAC Women's Basketball Championship, where they lost to Wittenberg, 75-57.

Oberlin's post season hopes were riding on a victory Saturday. A win would put them into the tournament, a loss would leave them tied with Case Western Reserve University, and a coin toss would have determined who played Wittenberg on Tuesday. The Lady Crimson did not let their future be decided by chance. They clawed their way to success behind a boisterous crowd that brought life to a once dead Philips Gymnasium. Bombs away

The Lady Crimson played weak basketball at the game's start. With 8:57 left in the half, Oberlin trailed by 13 points. "I was scared. Earlham was definitely a good team," said sophomore Katy Durham-Hammer.

The Lady Crimson regrouped, and chipped away at their deficit. First-year Rachael Barbee and sophomore Ikeya Hillman worked the ball inside, and drew their squad within three at the end of the half. Coach Ann Gilbert said, "It was our game plan to get the ball inside, our post players took a majority of the shots."

Oberlin did not look back from there. It took them 45 seconds to take a lead at the start of the second half, a lead they would hold until the final buzzer.

Sophomore Monica Bush finished the game with 20 points, and 15 rebounds in 35 minutes of play.

Tuesday brought a significant challenge for the women's basketball team. Going into Wittenberg's gym, they were playing the number one seed in the NCAC tournament. A team that had roughed them up during the regular season, with scores of 81-51 and 81-56.

The women were not phased, and struck fear into the Tiger's hearts. They opened up a 16-9 lead eight minutes into the game, mostly from the renewed play of sophomore Chamia Peterson. "It was the first time I felt confident and comfortable on the court. I wasn't scared. I wasn't nervous," Peterson said.

In Saturday's contest, the Lady Crimson's starting point guard had a forgettable performance, turning the ball over nine times. Peterson proved she was better than those nine giveaways on Tuesday night. Her first half play inspired her teammates. She scored nine points, dished out two assists, and grabbed four rebounds. Her inspiring play did not last, however. Peterson found herself in foul trouble, and Oberlin's chances to win were snuffed out. "From there on it was tough," said Gilbert.

Wittenberg took control of the game, and went up 38-25 at the half. The Tigers proved too strong for Oberlin, and won the game 75-57. Durham-Hammer said, "I thought we had a chance. They had to call a time out and make some changes."

Oberlin finished the season 3-13 in the conference, and 6-16 overall. This is a slight improvement over their 4-20 mark last season. Gilbert said, "The team can be pleased, but not satisfied with this season." More than their record reveals, the Lady Crimson showed some promise to have more successful seasons in the next few years. Strong play from first-years Regina Respert, Heather Barbee, and Rachael Barbee will be the basis of the team for years to come.

Experience will also make a difference with the women's basketball team next season. The team lacks maturity, due to its makeup of sophomores and first-years.

"Its gonna take a complete change in some people's attitudes," said Durham-Hammer. They played some close games this year that could have easily been wins had the ball bounced their way in a few key situations.

Strength Coach Todd Mooney will prescribe a workout regiment for the Lady Crimson to work on in the off season. Oberlin hopes to enter next season with a stronger team, and a class of quality recruits.

Bombs away: Sophomore Ikeya Hillman blasts up for a shot Saturday against Earlham. (photo by Mike Kabakoff)


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Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 16, February 27, 1998

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