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Title Defense Starts in Fantastic Fashion; Sparkman Pours in 36
DOVER, DEL – York College senior guard April Sparkman didn't get to see the court last year and enjoy the ride that was the Spartans' first ever Capital Athletic Conference women's basketball championship. On Wednesday night, she got to conduct the opening note of the Spartans' title defense as she orchestrated an offense that rolled to a 92-47 win over Wesley College in the conference opener for both squads in Dover, Delaware. The meeting is the first since last year's CAC Championship game in York. While the Wolverines are a very different team from last year, the Spartans look very much like a squad clicking on all cylinders early in the season.
Sparkman was the catalyst for the Green and White as she went off for a career-high, and school-record tying 36 points as the Spartans posted their second 40-plus point win of the year. Sparkman was an incredibly efficient 11-for-15 from the floor including 6-for-9 from three and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. In addition to her outstanding offensive night, Sparkman also had 12 rebounds and three assists. The double-double was her third of the year and 18th of her career.
Sparkman got the Spartans off to a great start with eight points in the Green and White's 13-0 run to start the game. After the Wolverines hit a three to temporarily stop the bleeding, Sparkman hit two free throws and sophomore Kristen Haley had a three-point play as the Spartans lead stood at 20-3. The Wolverine hit another three but Sparkman hit another jumper followed by a Brittany Percich lay up and two Madeline Sloan free throws as the Spartan lead grew to 26-6 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the half.
The Spartans kept rolling the remainder of the half as their defense and rebounding never allowed the Wolverines back into the contest. After Wesley trimmed the Spartan advantage to 17, the Green and White ripped off a 14-3 run, pushing their advantage to 27 at 45-18. The Spartans settled for a 51-27 lead at the break.
Sparkman started out the second half with a three and then it became the question of whether Sparkman would break her own career high of 33 points set during her junior year in a game at Stevenson University. Sparkman established the new standard on a three pointer from the corner off a great feed from Loreta Tonuzi with 4:21 left in the game. She then tied former Spartan great Heather Kessler's school record with a lay up at the 3:24 mark. Kessler set the standard in CAC game at Gallaudet on February 16, 2005.
The Spartan pushed the lead to as many as 49 in the second half before recording the 45-point margin of victory.
In addition to Sparkman's double-double, Haley and Brittany Hicks also notched double-doubles of their own. Hicks tallied a season-high 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds. The double-double was the first of the season for Hicks and the second in her career. Haley finished the game with 12 points and 13 rebounds as the double-double was her first of this season and eighth of her career. Sophomore point guard Aja Wallpher handed out seven assists while she also had two blocks and two steals in her 26 minutes of work. Freshman Taylor Santor chipped in with eight points in her 10 minutes of action.
Wesley was led by 11 points from Rachelle Allen while Katie Kirk added 10 points to the Wolverine attack.
The Spartans finshed the game shooting 48.5% from the floor and 44% (11-for-25) from three. The 11 threes were a season-high for York as the Spartans are shooting 45.6% from three (21-for-46) in their last two contests. York was also stellar from the free throw line as they converted their first 15 straight before missing their final chance of the night to finish at 93.8%.
The Spartans hounded the Wolverines into just 29.5% shooting including 7-of-24 (29.2%) from three. Wesley was awful from the free throw line as they made just 4-of-13 from the stripe.
Both teams had 17 turnovers but there was a large difference in what the squads did with the miscues. York turned the Wesley mistakes into 24 points while Wesley had just eight points off the Spartan turnovers. The Spartans also held a decided edge on the glass as York held a 55-29 advantage on the glass including an 18-11 margin in offensive rebounds.
The Spartans have now won five straight as they stand at 5-1 for the year and 1-0 in the league while the Wolverines fall to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the league.
The Spartans return home on Saturday afternoon when they host Marymount University in a big Capital Athletic Conference clash. Tip time at Charles Wolf Gymnasium is set for 4:00 pm.