Yeowomen Look Forward to NCAC Tournament
Broussard Scores 1,000th Career Point Over Breakby Zachary Pretzer
Despite their somewhat disappointing season thus far, the Oberlin women's basketball team will start with a clean slate in the upcoming North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament. With a big 56-43 win at home two nights ago versus Hiram College, and a 67-64 victory over The College of Wooster last Tuesday, the Yeowomen improved their record to 5-9 in the NCAC, and 6-16 overall. Although they fell 78-70 Saturday to Kenyon College, they ensured themselves the seventh spot in the NCAC Tournament with the win over Hiram.
The challenge for the Yeowomen this season has been getting off to a good start in the first half. In games in which they came out and shot a good field goal percentage they either won or were in the game until the last minute. In the majority of their games, however, they haven't had the same energy in the first half as they have in the second.
"We haven't been running the ball and we haven't been pushing the ball inside," Head Coach Ann Gilbert said. "We have been intense in the second half of most games, but we need that in the beginning of the game as well."
The Yeowomen have been quite the comeback team this season, and the Kenyon game was no exception. Oberlin beat the Ladies in their first meeting at Oberlin, but quickly found themselves down by 23 points this time.
"We beat them the first time we played on our home court, but it was senior night for them, and we definitely didn't match their energy level early in the game," Gilbert said.
The Yeowomen battled back in the second half to reduce Kenyon's lead to as few as four points, but couldn't pull any closer as the Ladies squeaked out an eight-point victory. Leading the way in scoring for Oberlin was sophomore guard Malisha Richardson, who racked up 16 points and pulled down five rebounds.
Junior guard Nzinga Broussard, who scored her 1,000th career point over Christmas break, added 10 more points to her total and also dished out six assists. Sophomore guard Sonja Spencer continued to be money from the free throw line, making six of seven attempts, and totaling 14 points for the game. Perhaps the biggest force this year for the Yeowomen has been senior forward Rachael Barbee, who scored 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds against Kenyon.
It was Barbee's performance against Wooster, however, that helped the Yeowomen come a step closer to qualifying for the conference tournament. She scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Coach Gilbert attributed much of the recent improvement in the team's play to Barbee.
"She has played great for us inside this year, and has really improved her game from last year. She has shown that she can really get the job done down low," Gilbert said.
In the Wooster victory, Broussard also had a fantastic game, scoring 15 points, pulling down eight rebounds and spreading the love to her teammates with another six-assist game.
Gilbert was pleased with the team's performance versus Wooster. "I think that the Wooster game was a very good win. We beat them by 30 the last time we had played them at Wooster, but we had trouble putting them away this time. Our team strength is running. When we run, we are successful, when we don't run, we're not," she said.
At Hiram College on Wednesday, the Yeowomen pulled out a dominating 56-43 win without the presence of Rachael Barbee.
Spencer, who scored a game-high 16 points, said, "Rachael [Barbee] was sick, so we had to step it up on the boards. We had a big run at the beginning of the second half that helped us pull out ahead."
Calling it a run would be an understatement. The Yeowomen came out of the locker room firing, jumping out to a 15-2 run in just the first five minutes of the half. After a low-scoring first half (Oberlin 20, Hiram 19), the run would be all Oberlin needed to seal the victory.
Richardson and Heather Barbee also stepped up big in the game. Richardson came close to a double-double, grabbing nine rebounds and scoring eight points, while Barbee had seven rebounds and 11 points, making five of her six shot attempts.
The Yeowomen will finish their regular season with two conference games at home. They will have the weekend off to prepare for Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. game against a tough Ohio Wesleyan team and Saturday's 1 p.m. game against Earlham (Ind.) College. The Yeowomen will look to knock these teams to possibly move up to the sixth spot in the tournament.
Copyright © 2001, The Oberlin Review.
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