Poor Shooting, Missed Opportunities Doom Yeowomen

Chris Landers, Sports Editor

The women’s basketball team saw its season end in a frustrating fashion this past Wednesday, as it fell to the second-seeded Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops, 67–60, in the quarterfinals of the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament.

Senior guard Syrea Thomas paced the Yeowomen (8–18, 3–11 NCAC) with 28 points, including a four-of-eight effort from beyond the arc, but poor shooting and missed opportunities plagued the team all game and spoiled the upset bid.

After a closely contested start, the Bishops caught fire from the field and went into halftime with a 35–20 lead. Oberlin showed its resilience in the second half, methodically chipping away at the lead and keeping OWU on its heels. After a 7–1 run over a two–minute span, the margin was just 60–56 with 3:35 to play.

The Yeowomen shot just 2–7 from that point on, however, and couldn’t get within one possession despite numerous chances. OWU senior Kayla Gordon — who led the Bishops with 24 points — converted a three-point play with a minute left to finally put the game out of reach.

“It was an extremely tough game,” head coach Kerry Jenkins said. “We showed a lot of heart and resilience and made some good adjustments but we just didn’t make enough plays at the end.”

For the game, Oberlin shot just 19–57 (33.3 percent), including 7–29 from downtown (24.1 percent). Sophomore forward Kelly Warlich poured in 14 points for the Yeowomen, while her fellow sophomore and point guard Allison Anderson added nine points of her own. The trio of Thomas, Warlich and Anderson combined to score 51 points, grab 17 boards, dish out nine assists and block four shots in the season’s most significant game.

The defeat marked the end of the careers of two Oberlin seniors, Thomas and guard Christina Spencer. Thomas, who started 64 games in her time with the Yeowomen, was an NCAC Honorable Mention selection this past season en route to averaging a team high of 14 points per game and adding 6.7 rebounds per game.

“I could not have asked for better leaders and captains,” Jenkins said of his two graduating players. “I told them that the highest compliment I can give is that every action they took was for the betterment of the team.”

Despite the frustrating end to the 2010–2011 campaign, the future looks bright for Oberlin. The Yeowomen will return four of five starters and a number of contributors off the bench next season, and they hope that the younger players’ trial by fire this year will pay off.

“I think [the underclassmen] are getting smarter. Basketball is a game of repeating experiences, especially in conference play when you see the same teams, plays and players. I’ve seen a lot of development mentally and physically, and I think they’ll know what to expect next year,” Jenkins said.

He also identified court intelligence as the primary focus this off-season, something that was lacking at times due to the inexperienced players on the court.

“The bottom line is, basketball acumen is very important because if you know their tendencies and plays the game becomes much, much easier,” he said.