The Hopkins women’s basketball team entered their final game of the season with a chance to solidify their spot in the Centennial Conference tournament this past Saturday. They hosted the Haverford College Fords, who entered the match-up atop the Conference standings, with the option to finish as high as third in the regular season rankings.
Freshman guard Emily Howie shared the team’s mentality as they headed into the pivotal final regular season, which also doubled as their last game in Goldfarb Gym for the 2019-2020 season.
“We were focused on beating Haverford and winning our last game at home this season,” she said. “We especially wanted to win this game for our amazing seniors, as this was their last ever game in Goldfarb.”
The Jays understood the importance of starting the game off on the right foot against their opponents, who brought an 11-game winning streak with them. Sophomore guard Diarra Oden opened up the game with a three-pointer to set the tone early. Senior forward Kenz Wilkinson followed the three by draining a nice jumper from inside the paint to push the lead to five to zero.
Hopkins rode the quick start throughout the entire first quarter, finishing the period with a comfortable 12-6 lead. The Jays’ defense stifled their opponents offense, as the Fords only shot 15 percent from the field.
The second quarter was a back-and-forth affair, as the visitors opened up with a layup by guard Anna-Sophia Capizzi. The Jays immediately responded with a jumper by freshman forward Halie Egan, which pushed the lead back to six.
The two teams traded buckets once again until another three-pointer by Oden pushed the lead to nine with seven minutes left to go in the second quarter. Soon after, the Fords responded once again with another good shot by Capizzi, which they then followed up with a pair of made free throws. This little stretch reduced the Hopkins lead to just five points again.
The half ended with a whimper for both teams, as only the Fords managed to notch another basket for the rest of the half. The first half ended without excitement, as the Jays led the Fords by a score of 20-16.
After the two squads traded baskets once again to start the half, the Jays hopped out onto a decisive 9-2 run that pushed their lead from 22-18 to a commanding 31-20. The run was powered by the common contributors in recent weeks, as junior forward Elise Moore netted back-to-back layups to start the run. Oden then added a pair of free throws, which Howie then followed with a clutch three pointer to push the lead to 11.
The scoring run combined with stifling defense to push the lead to 33-23 to end the quarter. Once again, the defense carried the weight, as the Fords only shot 25 percent in the third quarter. Howie shared how the team focused on the defensive side of the ball.
“One of the things we’ve really developed throughout our season was our defensive intensity,” she said. “It is the thing we fall back on when our offense isn’t going well. It’s always been constant for us, and we’re in the top 15 in D3 for holding opponents to under 50 points.”
The run was more than enough for the Jays to hold on and capture the win. The signature Hopkins defense kept the Fords at bay for long enough, as the hosts won by a final score of 45-39. With the win, the Jays clinched the third seed in the Centennial Conference tournament.
Howie gave some insight into the team’s mindset as they head into the pivotal playoff weekend.
“After our win on Saturday, we’re really confident in our ability to play together as a team and out-defend other teams in our conference,” she said. “The win this weekend proved we’re the best team in the Conference and we will use this momentum to power our way through the tournament.”
The Blue Jays will face off against the Gettysburg Bullets in the Centennial Conference Semifinals on Friday.