Team Effort Fuels Yeowomen’s Win
The final buzzer ending the women’s basketball team’s match against the Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops Wednesday night was a bittersweet sound. It solidified an Oberlin victory but also marked the last time seniors Lindsey Bernhardt, Katie Lucaites and Caroline Hamilton would play on their home floor.
The trio concluded their senior night in the best possible way, with a satisfying win of 62–56 against the same team that ended the Yeowomen’s postseason one year ago.
The victory snapped a six-game losing streak and completed the Yeowomen’s regular season sweep over the Battling Bishops, who fell to 6–18, 5–10 in the North Coast Athletic Conference.
The game was tightly contested throughout the 40-minute duration, as there were six lead changes with seven ties. Oberlin had a slim 17–16 lead at the end of the first quarter but would trail 33–29 at halftime.
In the second half, Oberlin’s defense illustrated its potential in the NCAC, holding Ohio Wesleyan to just 23 points in the final 20 minutes of play.
The Yeowomen’s team effort on the defensive side limited the NCAC’s top two scorers, Megan Keuther and Taylor Dickson of Ohio Wesleyan, to just seven total points. With a defensive stronghold at their backs, the Yeowomen managed to outscore their opponents 33–23 in the second half to seal their victory.
Head Coach Kerry Jenkins said he was thrilled with his team’s ability to stop the Battling Bishops’ dynamic duo.
“We have some kids that can be really tough defenders,” Jenkins said. “Everybody did a good job of sticking to the game plan and executing our defensive principles.”
Senior guard Lindsey Bernhardt led the way for the Yeowomen, scoring 15 points while adding a team-high four assists. Sophomore forward Abby Andrews and first-year center Olivia Canning were forces to be reckoned with down low, as they added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Canning, a Massachusetts native, was happy that the team’s performance in their home finale coincided with a satisfying senior day.
“We did it for the seniors,” Canning said.
While the offense only shot 36.4 percent from the field on 24–66 attempts, Canning believes that they showed signs of progression in the win.
“I think we were more relaxed in general,” Canning said. “We were more comfortable and were having more fun.”
First-year guard Sabrina Deleonibus added valuable minutes off the bench in the victory and was happy with the defensive performance of the team.
“We trusted each other,” Deleonibus said. “Help-side [defense] was strong, but in reality we just communicated well, and it turned into a win.”
Oberlin’s aggressive defense forced 16 Ohio Wesleyan turnovers while the Yeowomen only gave up the ball 11 times, which is well below their season average of 22 per game. The Yeowomen didn’t let their opponents forget their errors, either; they scored 17 points off of the Battling Bishops’ turnovers.
Coach Jenkins was pleased with the team’s ability to take care of the basketball.
“I thought the players did a really good job of being really focused and being attentive to what they were doing on the floor,” Jenkins said.
The team’s win, boosting its record to 11–13, 5–10 NCAC, places the Yeowomen well within the field of eight for the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament, which will begin next week.
With a Saturday tilt at 2 p.m. at Wittenberg University marking the final contest in the team’s regular season, every game down the final stretch is a must-win.
Oberlin currently sits in a two-way tie for seventh place with Ohio Wesleyan. But since the Yeowomen swept the regular season series with the Battling Bishops, it seems like they will win the seeding tiebreaker.
While the Yeowomen may not be exactly where they want to be in conference standings, Coach Jenkins has high hopes for the team to make the most of the tournament and meet their season goals.
“If we are playing our brand of basketball, we can play with or beat anybody,” Jenkins said.
The Yeowomen are confident after this win and are ready to take some momentum into the NCAC tournament, which begins on Tuesday, Feb. 23.