Never in the 26-year history of women's basketball at Union College have the Dutchwomen ever boasted a 4-0 record. The 2000-01 Garnet not only owns the best start in the history of the program, they own one of just four wins over Williams, which came into last Saturday's game (December 2) with a 3-1 record, an 11-game win streak over Union, and a 19-3 advantage in the all-time series.
All that came to an end as the Dutchwomen posted a 74-58 victory in a game that saw Union lead by as many as 17 points (34-17) in the first half. Williams closed the gap to nine at the break (39-30), but was never able to break the Dutchwomen's spirit.
The victory was particularly sweet for Union's four senior captains, Beth Perry (Bliss, NY/Lechworth), Sara D'Arcangelo (Clarksburg, MA/Drury), Erin McNamara (N. Providence, RI/LaSalle Academy) and Kathleen Furlong (Lackawanna, NY/Holy Angels). As freshmen, those four had to endure a 100-48 loss at the hands of the homestanding Ephs.
“We are a veteran team now,” said sixth-year head coach Mary Ellen Burt. “We took our lumps over the last couple of years, and the seniors still remember what happened to them as freshmen. This definitely was a sweet payback.”
The Dutchwomen received quality minutes from all nine players who got into the game. Junior guard Katie Smith (Delmar, NY/Bethlehem) led all scorers with 24 points and was a perfect nine-for-nine from the free throw line. Smith also handed out six assists. Junior forward Heather Bennett (Westwood, MA/Westwood) helped Union control the boards as she pulled down a career-high 21 rebounds while scoring 21 points, her best offensive game in two seasons.
D'Arcangelo came off the bench and hit her her first three shots from three-point range to finish with 14 markers while McNamara ran the show from her point guard position and Perry contributed seven rebounds, three points, three steals and three assists.
Burt also had the luxury of going to what looks to be a talented bench. Junior forward Meredith Chace (Westwood, MA/Westwood) contributed 15 strong minutes, sophomore guard Jill Ring (Brewster, MA/Nauset Regional) had four points, an assist and some solid defensive work in eight minutes while rookie guards Vicky Kuzman (Altamont, NY/Guilderland) and Taryn Scinto (Westwood, NJ/Immaculate Heart) helped Union control the tempo of the game while contributing strong defensive efforts.
“I think the Willams game secured our confidence,” said Burt. “We needed a Williams-type game. We always talk about believing in yourself and believing that you can win. We're not satisfied any longer with just being competitive.”
The only down side to the young season has been the injury to Furlong, who was hurt in the 65-44 win at Manhattanville. She is expected to return to action in January.