This past week, the Hopkins women’s basketball team faced two Centennial Conference foes, the Haverford College Fords and the Swarthmore College Garnet.
Prior to their game against Haverford last Wednesday, the Blue Jays had come out victorious in four of their previous five Conference games, with their only defeat coming from the first-place Gettysburg College Bullets.
Sophomore guard Maggie Wodicka spoke about how the team has adapted to first-year head coach Katherine Bixby’s system and how doing so has led to the team’s success.
“From day one, Coach Bixby has talked about focusing on things we can control, such as effort, attitude and energy,” Wodicka said. “The team has really bought into this as the year progressed, and it shows in our improved Conference record from last year.”
Hopkins and Haverford started off close, as the score remained tied at 11 with 1:46 left in the first quarter. Four of the Jays’ points came from junior guard Lexie Scholtz.
However, the Fords would end the quarter on top, scoring six straight to end the first with a 17-11 lead.
Haverford stayed in control heading into halftime, outscoring the Jays 16-9 in the second quarter. The Fords’ offense was fueled by seniors Sierra Berkel and Samantha Wetzel, who finished the game with 17 points and 15 points, respectively. Down 33-20 heading into the second half, Hopkins looked to cut the deficit.
Three-pointers by junior guards Madison McGrath and Lillian Scott, who led Hopkins with 13 points and five assists, made it a 51-41 game in favor of the Fords. Unfortunately for the Jays, that was the closest the game would get. Haverford won the game by a score of 65-47.
The Jays looked to come back from the loss with a win against Swarthmore on Saturday in Goldfarb Gym. The Garnet, sitting towards the bottom of the Conference, came into the matchup with a 2-15 record.
Both teams struggled offensively to start the game, shooting a combined 10-31 (32 percent) in the first quarter. Still, the Blue Jays managed to lead after the first, 14-8.
Swarthmore was able to keep the game close heading into halftime, thanks to strong offensive efforts from sophomore Abigail Pirron and junior Audra Woodside, who combined for 27 of the Garnet’s points.
When the second half was underway, Hopkins sought to extend their eight-point lead. Though they could not find their rhythm at the beginning of the third quarter offensively, the Jays came out strong on defense, holding the Garnet to 24 percent shooting from the field.
Wodicka discussed the team’s change in approach following an inconsistent offensive first half.
“Sometimes shots just weren’t falling, but at halftime we really emphasized being accountable on the defensive end of the floor,” she said. “Playing good defense often leads to even better offense for us and just increases our energy level overall.”
In the final 3:10 of the third quarter, Hopkins went on a 9-0 run to take a 44-31 lead. The first seven of those points came from junior guard Sophia Way, who led the Blue Jays with 19 points and seven rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, Hopkins had a commanding lead until Swarthmore went on an 8-0 run, cutting the deficit to 12 with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
However, the Jays responded with an 8-3 run of their own behind a jumper from Way and two three-pointers from Wodicka.
Wodicka commented on her timely threes.
“It felt great to be able to hit those shots for my team and continue to build on the energy we had in the second half,” she said. “My teammates were able to find me in rhythm and had the confidence in me to knock it down.”
The Blue Jays came away with a 65-46 victory over the Garnet.
McGrath, who helped carry the Jays’ offense against the Garnet with 12 points and four rebounds, spoke about the team’s dynamic and leadership, especially as there are no seniors on the roster.
“Our class of seven juniors has had to assume a bigger leadership role,” McGrath said. “In close games or when we start to lose composure, the juniors are able to huddle everyone together and settle down the team, keeping us composed and on the same page.”
This win put the Jays’ Conference record at 13-5, guaranteeing them the fourth seed in the Centennial Conference Tournament. Other teams who have also clinched spots in the Tournament include first-seeded Gettysburg, Haverford and Muhlenberg.
As Hopkins nears the end of its regular season, McGrath spoke about the team’s focus prior to heading into Tournament play.
“Going into the final two regular season games, we really want to work on executing our plays, fine-tuning our fundamentals and playing smart, team basketball,” she said.
The Blue Jays will end their regular season at home when they host the Bryn Mawr College Owls on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. Be sure to also catch the Jays the following week in the Centennial Conference Tournament, as they will host the No. 5 seed on Tuesday, Feb. 20.