In tough road loss, women knocked out of basketball playoff

First-year Skylar Schmid jumps to block a shot in Vassar’s second rouund playoff game against Skidmore last Saturday. The Brewers dropped the contest with a score of 45-60./ Courtesy of Ed Burke

After a hard-fought game and an incredible season, the women’s basketball team fell 60-45 in what ended up being their last game of the season on Saturday at Skidmore. The Brewers finished out this season 17-10, their winningest season in four years.

The Brewers offense was paced by sophomore Isa Peczuh, who posted 13 points, 12 of which came from three-pointers. Senior captain Ariella Rosenthal put up eight points and grabbed seven rebounds. Senior Kim Romanoff and junior Julia Roellke rounded out the top four scorers, posting five points apiece. Sophomore Sophie Nick led the Brewers in rebounds with 10 and added in four points.

Vassar struggled with shooting from the floor, posting a 0.283 FG percentage and a 0.241 percentage from the three-point line. Comparatively, Skidmore shot 0.411 from the floor and 0.417 from three. Skidmore shot nearly twice as well as the Brewers, which proved to be a huge issue for Vassar’s players, who just couldn’t seem to break down the Thoroughbreds’ defense throughout the whole game.

However, the first half of the game was a much closer contest than the second half. The Brewers were down one heading into the second quarter, but were then able to outscore Skidmore by one, leaving the game tied at 25 at halftime.

Skidmore came out fast in the second half, going on a 15-4 scoring run, which put the Brewers in a tough position to recover from. They went into the fourth quarter down by 11, having only posted six points in the entire third quarter. The Brewers showed no signs of giving up, however, and even got the game to within five with 2:14 remaining thanks to a layup by senior Samarah Cook. Unfortunately, this was the last time the Brewers scored, and Skidmore put away 10 more points to close out the game 60-45.

While this loss knocked the Brewers out of Liberty League tournament play, the women’s basketball team still has a lot to be proud of. Skidmore went into this game as the number one seed, but Vassar had already beaten them twice in the regular season. VC also picked up huge wins against RPI, St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

Cook attributed the loss in this third matchup to lack of grit and execution. “I think the main difference between yesterday and the previous times we’ve played Skidmore was that they wanted it more and were hitting their open shots when we weren’t,” Cook said. “Their zone is very difficult to puncture, and we deferred to shooting from outside. Compared to the previous two times, we were hitting our outside shots, but yesterday that was not the case and we ended up digging ourselves into too deep of a hole that we couldn’t get out of.”

Roellke expressed that it hurt to lose to a team that the Brewers were capable of beating: “It’s obviously not the way we wanted to end the season, but reflecting on it, we had a fantastic year. Losing to Skid is never easy, particularly given that we swept them in the regular season and had the potential to beat them in playoffs on their hardwood. As Sophie Nick always says, ‘it’s hard to beat a good team three times in a row.’”

VC ended the season with an average of 61.9 points per game, while Skidmore averaged 56.4 points per game. The Brewers also averaged 40.1 rebounds per game and 14.4 assists per game. The team had an incredible 0.691 free throw percentage and a 0.407 field goal percentage with a 0.326 three-point field goal percentage. Nick and Rosenthal ended the season with the most points on the team, posting 354 and 307 respectively.

Junior Nicole Teta is very happy with what the Brewers have accomplished and the direction in which the program is headed. “This is the first time our team has made it to the playoffs since the 2014 season. It was a huge learning experience for us, especially because we had never played in that intense atmosphere before,” Teta noted.

Teta also commented on how this learning experience has helped her pinpoint specifics that the team needs to focus on for next season. “The game taught me a lot about what our team needs to do next year in order to not produce the same result. We need to focus on doing all of the little things that do not appear in the stat line,” she explained. “This may seem minuscule and tedious but it is the difference between good teams and great teams. During our semifinal game, Skidmore did all of the little things which helped make them successful.”

While Teta still has one season left as a Brewer, this loss was bittersweet for Cook, who will be graduating in May. “I am going to miss the team and the experience of playing basketball immensely…Getting to the semifinals was a huge accomplishment and an exciting journey to be a part of,” Cook elucidated.

However, for Cook, it was not just about the wins and the losses and the many accomplishments of the team. Rather, it was about the whole experience of playing basketball. Cook explained, “There is a distinct feeling that I get while competing that is only present when I step onto the court. To have that feeling in the company of incredible women while playing the sport I love will be one of the things I miss most.”

The Brewers will graduate three seniors this year: Cook, Rosenthal and Romanoff. Roellke noted, “We wish we could have gotten a Liberty League title for our seniors, who have contributed an indescribable amount to VCWB in their tenure here. Their leadership will be missed.”

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