Basketball keeps heads high after league upsets on the road

Sophomore Nicole Teta looks for teammates in league match-up against Clarkson on Jan. 13. Teta scored a buzzer-beating three-point shot to push the Brewers over the Golden Knights 64-61. / Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

Coming off a four-game winning streak against Bard, Clarkson, St. Lawrence and RPI, the Vassar women’s basketball team struggled to find their rhythm. They fell to William Smith and RIT in their past two contests this week. Although the squad lost to William Smith earlier in the year, the RIT Tigers upset the women’s team in a shocking 85-61 defeat.

In the game against William Smith, freshman Sophie Nick put up a career-high 22 points, paired with 10 rebounds. Alongside Nick, freshman Isa Pezuch totaled 13 points while sophomore Nicole Teta tallied 11 points and eight rebounds. Although several Brewers put up impressive numbers, the team struggled with getting the ball in the basket. This difficulty can be seen in the difference of shot percentage, as the Herons scored 47 percent compared to the Brewers’ 33 percent.

Throughout the game, Vassar was just unable to close the gap and in turn, unable to give themselves a lead. In the first quarter, the Brewers started out on top thanks to points from Pezuch. However, William Smith answered and was able to assert a five-point lead going into the second quarter. VC fought back in the second quarter but were unable to convert on the offensive end, allowing William Smith to score 10 of the final 12 points of the half and stretch their lead to 46-32.

The second half followed a similar model, with the Brewers trying to close the gap but William Smith continually putting points up on the board. Eventually, the clock got the best of VC as the team fell short 65-75. The squad left Geneva, NY with a broken winning streak and a tough game ahead of them the next day.

Against RIT, the Brewers were “upset” in more than one way after the game. The Tigers, after losing to the Brewers 72-83 earlier in the season, put up 85 points against the Brewers’ 61. Leading Vassar was junior captain Ariella Rosenthal, who tallied an impressive 24 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Behind Rosenthal, Teta poured in 11 points and nine rebounds, while Pezuch contributed 10 points. However, shot percentage bested Vassar yet again, as the team only scored 34 percent from the floor in comparison to the Tiger’s 51 percent. The inability to convert on the offensive end of the court plagued the Brewers in the first quarter.

The Tigers went on a 25-3 run to give themselves a comfortable lead early on, which they were able to keep for the rest of the game. The teams entered halftime with RIT ahead 50-25. However, the Brewers caught a second wind after the break and responded by going on a 14-4 run to pull the game within 16. Then in the fourth quarter, play was even with both sides posting 14 points, but RIT had already given themselves a marginal lead and the Brewers were unable to catch up.

Although this past weekend was tough, the team does not plan on letting these two games define their season, nor do they plan on continuing this losing streak next week against Skidmore and Union.

Freshman Sophie Nick has been a remarkable addition to the Brewer’s roster this season. The 6’1” forward averages 12.4 points per game and leads the team with 160 rebounds on the season. Nick has been a driving force in the team’s success this season and believes that the team has potential to get back on track and play better in the upcoming league games.

Nick mentioned, “We had a tough weekend against William Smith and RIT but we are planning on working hard at practice this week to improve the areas we struggled in over the weekend and come out this weekend with confidence and energy.” Nick continued, “Skidmore and Union are tough teams but we match up well and if we play our brand of basketball we can definitely get two wins.”

Continuing her positivity, Nick notes how crucial the upperclassmen’s leadership and support have been to the team’s success this season. In particular, the Brewers are very happy to be led under the team’s three juniors: Rosenthal, Samarah Cook and Kim Romanoff.

Rosenthal has had an incredible season thus far and has aided the team in securing so many wins. She leads the team in scoring and assists with 288 and 53 respectively. Coming off two losses, Rosenthal is hopeful that the team can take something away from their performance this past weekend. “Obviously it was a tough weekend for us but I think it was a good wake up call for our team,” Rosenthal noted.

Furthermore, Rosenthal mentioned that although they will be playing league competitors for a second time each, past results are irrelevant and whichever team shows up more ready to play will be the victor. “Going into the second round of league play you can either step up or get complacent, and I think that is what happened to us. You can never expect anyone in the Liberty League to allow you to come into their gym and roll over them; each game is a dog fight, and we lacked the grit we needed to win this weekend,” Rosenthal pointed out.

In terms of what the team needs to get back on track against Skidmore and Union, Rosenthal is focusing on confidence and making sure that the team does not get down on themselves. “I think keeping our heads up and making sure people understand the importance of looking ahead and not dwelling on what is done is important for us to move forward and continue to get better this week,” she stated. Rosenthal wants the team to use these losses as motivation to keep improving as the season progresses.

With heads held high, the Brewers will face two more league opponents, Union and Skidmore, on Feb. 3 and 4 on their home court.

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