YORK, Pa. – Freshman forward Kristen Haley notched 20 points and seven rebounds in her collegiate debut Monday as she led the York College women's basketball team to a season-opening 66-62 triumph over visiting Johns Hopkins University. The young Spartan squad begins the campaign 1-0 while the Blue Jays open up at 0-1.
Haley proved more than solid in her first contest with the Green and White. The talented rookie's 20 points came on 7-for-17 shooting from the floor, as she continually forced the action around the block, while going 6-for-8 from the free throw stripe. Haley was also strong on the boards, corralling a team-bet seven rebounds on the night including a squad-high three offensive caroms.
Monday's opener was a night for newcomers as head coach Betsy Witman, for the first time in her 12 seasons, started four rookies alongside senior stalwart Jaimie Sapp. Haley, Kelsey Murphy, Aja Wallpher, and Brittany Hicks garnered starting roles in just their first collegiate outing. And none disappointed.
Murphy shot a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor, including a pair of triples, and canned two free throws as she recorded ten points. Wallpher provided the Spartans with a steady presence at point guard while Hicks chipped in with five points, four rebounds, and got to the line six times.
Up 33-31 after the season's first 20 minutes, the Spartans fell behind early in the latter frame as Hopkins went on a brief 5-0 run to take a 36-33 advantage with 17:25 to play.
York regained the lead for good however four minutes later on a Gayle Exley layup as the Green and White would not relinquish the lead for the remaining 13 minutes of the contest.
The Spartan lead would stretch to as many as eight but the Blue Jays would simply not go away – making for an interesting final few minutes.
Having hung around since that Exley layup, Hopkins was suddenly in position to make a late comeback. With 2:17 remaining in the game, Stephanie Fong canned two of her team-high 15 points to cut York's lead to a miniscule two at 61-59.
Owning that slim lead, the Spartan defense went into lock-down mode as they did not allow another Blue Jay point the rest of the way. A pair clutch freebies by Hicks with only 1:09 gave the Green and White the victory.
Aside from the youngsters' efforts, veterans Caitlin Byrne and Khadija Mitchell each contributed eight points in the triumph. Exley chipped in with five points and five rebounds.
For the game, the Spartans shot 40.4 percent from the field (21-for-52) including a 36.4 percent clip from behind the three-point line (4-for-11).
Fong's 20 came in great part due to her 6-for-11 shooting night. Alex Vassila, who played well in the paint for the Blue Jays, notched a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds – including seven offensive caroms – while Lyndsay Burton was the third Hopkins player in double digits with 11 points.
York held the Blue Jays to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor (22-for-66) but did surrender the rebound advantage to their guests as Hopkins owned a 47-37 margin.
The Green and White return to action on Wednesday, November 17, when they travel down I-83 South to Goucher College in Towson, Md. Tip-off against the Gophers is scheduled for 6:00 pm.
Photo: Kristen Haley goes up for a shot against Johns Hopkins in York's season-opener on Monday night - courtesy of Zach Clabaugh - www.sharpedgefoto.com