After a strong performance in the Ivy League tourney in Philadelphia last weekend, the Radcliffe hoopsters hit the road again last night for Norton, Mass. where they easily whipped Wheaton, 81-50.
Suffering from the wear of the long weekend, added to a little bus lag, the intrepid Crimson travellers played sloppyball in the first half, allowing the obviously-inferior Wheaton squad to stay within range.
"Their fundamentals were terrible," said senior Sue Williams last night. But playing down to the level of competition, the Crimson was unable to capitalize on Wheaton's weakness. "No one was doing anything right," Williams said.
To add injury to insult Williams went down in the opening minutes of the game with a knee injury of unknown severity, and spent the rest of the contest on the sidelines.
Coach Carole Kleinfelder put her charges in a man-to-man defense at the beginning of the game but the hustle that keys that kind of defense just was not there. Rather than admit failure and set up in a zone, Kleinfelder pulled the starters and banked on her bench to provide the spark.
But the Wheaton women could not be shaken. They hung tough, never falling more than four-to-six points behind and the first half ended with the Crimson struggling ineptly but nontheless leading 32-28.
Coach Kleinfelder placed the chips on the table at half time to put the psyche back in the Crimson. The first half was simply embarrassing for the hoopsters. As Ellen Hart put it, "If we can't beat them, we can't beat anyone."
Coming out in the second half, something happened. The Crimson shook the cobwebs loose, got its man-to-man defense together for the second half and put the Wheaton squad in its place.
In the first ten minutes of the half the reborn cagers wore holes in the floor and singed the nets in an awesome scoring binge. Led by captain Kathy Fultion and freshman Caryn Curry, the Crimson outscored Wheaton 30-8 and it was all over.
Wheaton on the Run
Once assured that the squad had solved the man-to-man defense, Kleinfelder switched to a 1-3-1 trapping zone. Strong center play by Sue Hewitt and surging newcomer Leslie Greis kept Wheaton on the run and Radcliffe ahead.
With ten minutes left in the game the Crimson had built up a 28 point lead, putting away an obviously inferior Wheaton squad. But more importantly the 'Cliffe cagers recaptured, if somewhat clumsily, the spirit that took them to the finals in Philadelphia.
Coach Kleinfelder will pit her squad against Yale this Friday in the IAB and against Tufts on Monday, in the regular season finale, also at the IAB.