It was a defensive battle between the Blue Jays and the Haverford College Fords as the two teams traveled up to Gettysburg, Pa. to face off in the semifinal round of the Centennial Conference tournament. The No. 2 seed Hopkins women’s basketball team dropped a tight battle against No. 3 seed Haverford College.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair between two evenly-matched opponents, with neither team able to gain much ground against the other. Hopkins got off to a hot start from behind the arc, with 12 of their 15 first quarter points coming from three pointers. The black and blue went four for five on their three-point attempts. Three different Blue Jays got in on the three-point party, with senior guard Lillian Scott and senior forward Marissa Varnado each hitting one and freshman guard Diarra Oden dropping two in the bucket.
Haverford was not shaken by the sharp shooting of the Blue Jays, however, and didn’t let Hopkins carve out much of a lead. The biggest gap the Jays were able to create was just five before the Fords knotted up the score less than a minute later. Oden’s second three of the quarter gave the Jays a 15-12 lead as the Fords battled on the back of seven points from junior Anna-Sophia Capizzi.
The second quarter started similarly to the first, as both teams struggled to gain an edge over the other in the first few minutes with the Jays ahead 22-17. The Fords were able to swing the momentum their way, as the rest of the second quarter was all theirs on the scoreboard. It started midway through when sophomore Julianna Clark kicked off a 10-0 run that saw the Fords reclaim their first lead since the opening two minutes of the game and extend it to a 27-22 advantage.
Despite the Fords gaining an edge on the scoreboard, neither team was very dominant in the latter part of the second quarter. Hopkins turned the ball over five times compared to Haverford’s two and the Fords went 3-7 from the field while holding the Jays to 0-5 on their shots.
Needing some momentum after being held scoreless for a majority of the second quarter, Hopkins answered the call by starting the third on a 10-3 run led by six points from Scott to put the Jays back in the lead 32-30. However, the Fords would close out the remainder of the quarter with seven points to the Jays’ two to take a 37-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
Scott would get the Blue Jays off to another hot start in the fourth with four straight points to give Hopkins a one-point lead that would only last a mere 22 seconds before Haverford’s junior Megan Furch hit a layup to swing the lead back to the Fords. Both defenses would clamp down heavy on the opposing offenses, with neither team surrendering a point for more than two minutes before senior guard Madison McGrath’s three-pointer put Hopkins up 41-39 with just 3:41 left on the clock.
Haverford would tie up the game nearly two minutes later when Capizzi scored her 15th point of the day on a layup to knot the score at 41 all. The Blue Jays would have a couple of opportunities to retake the lead but couldn’t get the ball to fall. The Fords were able to get one last basket from Clark with just 22 seconds left, which would prove to be the deciding points of the contest. Hopkins couldn’t convert on three shot attempts in the final seconds and fell by a score of 43-41.
Scott led the Blue Jays with 19 points, while Capizzi’s 15 led the Fords. Senior forward/center Rory Cole dominated the glass with 14 rebounds for Hopkins, while Ford junior Maddie Gallic brought down 10 boards to go along with seven points.
Although satisfied with the team’s defensive performance, Cole acknowledged the struggles on offense for the Blue Jays.
“The Haverford game was really challenging. Both teams played really strong defense,” Cole said. “Defensively, we really executed everything we wanted to; however offensively, we struggled to put the ball in the basket.”
While the loss was clearly heartbreaking for Hopkins, the team didn’t have much time to hang their heads, as they found out just a few days later that their season would not be coming to a close, and in fact for the first time since 2012, they would be heading to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid team.
The tournament berth means a huge deal to all of the Jays, but to Cole, as a senior, she’s excited to have the opportunity to extend her season and continue to compete with her team.
“Making it into the NCAA tournament means everything to this team. We’ve been through a lot together and are really excited to have the opportunity to play together again,” Cole said. “We are really looking forward to competing and showing everyone who we are as a team and as a program.”
Hopkins will travel to the University of Scranton to battle the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors on March 1, with tip off set for 5 p.m.