Engineers ice cold over the weekend
The Engineers lost two home games against rivals Skidmore and Vassar over the weekend, dropping to 9-12 on the year and 6-8 in the Liberty League. On Friday night, the Skidmore Thoroughbreds rode into town on a four game win streak, including a 55-51 game against Rensselaer in Saratoga Springs on January 21. The Thoroughbreds were hot out of the gates, scoring in the first three seconds. They jumped out to an early 8-1 lead and did not allow an Engineer field goal until Heather Converse converted a layup with 5:27 left in the first quarter. Later, RPI’s Ashlyn O’Neil and Skidmore’s Andi Levitz traded baskets, and the quarter came to an end with the Engineers down 11-5.
Fueled by six points from O’Neil, RPI started to work its way out of their 2-16 shooting slump in the 2nd quarter. After a longball from captain Brielle Sharry, Skidmore’s lead was cut to one, but the Engineers failed to take advantage. They were outscored 14-4 for the rest of the quarter and did not hold a lead once in the game. Julia Blanck filled up the stat sheet for the Thoroughbreds, with 6 points, 4 rebounds, an assist, and steal in the second quarter on way to a team-high 14 points.
The Engineers began to make a push in the third, outscoring Skidmore 17-14. Hannah McGrath and Brielle Sharry hit two jumpers in the last minute, cutting the lead back down to eight. Ashlyn O’Neil continued her good game in the last quarter, tying a career best by finishing with a game high 21 points, sinking two threes and all seven of her free throws, but it was too little too late. Skidmore continued to play five-out, taking advantage of the Engineers' difficulty closing out shooters with strong ball movement. They ended the night with seven made threes and 13 assists, compared to the Engineers’ four in each category. The 57-46 win moved the Thoroughbreds to 16-4 on the season and extended their winning streak to five.
On Saturday, the Engineers faced the Vassar Brewers in their White-Out for Morgan’s Message game. Morgan’s Message is an organization striving to eliminate the stigma around mental health within the student-athlete community and was created after the tragic passing of Morgan Rodgers in July, 2019. Click here to read about what the Rensselaer chapter of Morgan’s Message is aiming to achieve, and here to go to Morgan’s Message’s official website.
The Engineers started this game with more intensity than their game against Skidmore, taking an early 7-2 lead and forcing the Brewers to miss their first five shots. However, after a run led by Alex Lee and Sierra McDermed, Vassar went into the break up 13-12. The pace of play slowed down in the 2nd quarter as both teams struggled to put the ball in the net. The Brewers, in particular, could not maintain the momentum they brought with them from the 1st quarter, scoring just six points on 3-17 shooting. Tova Gelb made two of their three buckets on her way to an 18 point double-double. Hannah Converse shined, scoring twice in succession to retake the Engineers’ lead midway through the quarter. After another long period of scoreless basketball, the Engineers led 22-19 at half.
Vassar came back onto the court about fpur minutes earlier than RPI after halftime, practicing driving to the basket and coming off screens. Converse continued to play well, scoring nine in the 3rd to keep the Engineers afloat. However, once she checked out with 2:18 left after picking up a foul, happy hour began for the surging Brewers. Down one, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year Eliza Srinivasan took over the game, scoring her first and all 11 points in Vassar’s 11-3 run, and 27-17 quarter.
Srinivasan and Converse dueled in the 4th, scoring eight and six, respectively. However, the Engineers’ reliance on one scorer hurt them once again. Converse tied a career-high with 21 points, but no other Engineer scored more than nine. Similarly, when Ashlyn O’Neil put up 21, Converse was next in line with seven points. The Engineers decided to play the foul game, but Srinivasan’s dominance and the Brewer’s lead were insurmountable. Sharry and Converse tried to keep the game close, but the game never got closer than six points, and the Engineers fell 67-55. Eliza Srinivasan posted an impressive stat line of 19 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in the win as Vassar picked up their ninth straight win against the Engineers and moved to 14-7 this season.