On the downside, the Skidmore College women's basketball team finished 2012 with a five-game skid. However, that, as they say, was last year.
Friday, Skidmore started 2013 by bringing that skid to a screeching halt.
Powered by a strong second-half effort, the Thoroughbreds made it a positive start to the New Year with a 59-36 victory over Bard College at the Williamson Sports Center. Perhaps more importantly, the win came in the Liberty League opener for both teams.
"It's always a plus to start 1-0 in league play," Skidmore coach Darren Bennett said. "And it's always good to get a win, especially the way that we've been playing."
As an added positive to the game for Skidmore (3-7, 1-0), all 12 players that saw minutes found their way into the scorebook.
"Our young players are starting to come about and learn what has to happen at the next level, which is college basketball," Bennett said. "Our upper class players are starting to pick it up a notch as well."
The contest started to turn in Skidmore's favor midway through the first half after Bard (6-4, 0-1) had pulled even at 15-15 with two Joanna Regan free throws. But starting with a Skylar Caligaris three-point goal, the Thoroughbreds went on a 10-0 run, finishing with a Molly Gile bucket with 5:44 left before the break.
Helping the cause was a Thoroughbred defense that held Bard scoreless for nearly seven minutes. Tytravia Riley ended the drought for the Raptors with a layup with 3:55 left in the half.
"You can see our kids are really starting to take an extra effort on defense and focus on that end of the floor," Bennett said. "You can see progress, especially on the defensive end, but we still have to get better at concentrating and boxing out."
Skidmore kept up the pressure in the second half, opening the session with a short 7-2 spurt, capped by two Angela Botiba free throws that built a 35-23 margin. The Raptors would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
"We competed and I'm very happy with that," Bard coach Sarah Lombard said. "We had a limited bench, so as much as they could do, they did. We just ran out of steam."
Leading a balanced scoring effort for Skidmore was freshman Amber Holgate with 10 points, the only Thoroughbred in double figures. Caligaris was next with nine and Dani DeGregory added eight points. Riley paced Bard with a game-high 16 points.
"We've been practicing a lot and tried to come out strong for the start of the Liberty League," Holgate said. "We had to get this win and bump up our intensity for the next game."
"If you look at our scoring chart from game to game, you really don't know who is going to lead the team in scoring and that's a good thing," Bennett said. "Different kids are scoring and that's good to see."
An always key factor for any basketball team and one that factored into last month’s skid was a cold shooting touch. That showed signs of a thaw in Friday’s decision.
The Thoroughbreds finished a couple shots under 40 percent, converting 22-of-56 attempts. Bard, meanwhile, connected on just 11-of-38 shots for 29 percent.
"Hopefully, we haven't seen the peak as far as the shooting goes," Bennett said. "We've got a ways to go, but it's going to open up the inside."
Skidmore will try to make it two straight in Liberty League play on Saturday, hosting a 2 pm game with William Smith.
Skidmore's Jordyn Wartts
ON THE WIRE