December 3, 2011

Gritty Defense Leads Spartans Past Saints

YORK, PA – The York College women's basketball team won their sixth straight game, outlasting Marymount University 53-43 in a defensive struggle on Saturday afternoon in York. The Spartans improve to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the Capital Athletic Conference while the Saints fall to 3-4 and 1-1 in the league.

The Spartans have now won four straight against the Saints in the series.

York could not have gotten off to a better start as they jumped on their guests early, blitzing the Saints with 12 unanswered points to start the game. Senior April Sparkman began the scoring with a triple and the run would include two other threes. Sophomore Kelsey Murphy canned a three-ball at the 15:57 mark while Brittany Hicks closed out the run with a three of her own with 14:42 left in the half.

The Saints responded by slowly chipping away at the Spartan lead. After trailing by 12 to start the game, Marymount fashioned a prolonged 13-2 run, cutting the York lead to one at 14-13. The Spartans answered the Saints run with a 14-4 run of their own, pushing the lead back to double figures at 28-17. York would only score two more points the rest of the half but the Saints were not much better as they netted just four points over the final three minutes of the half, allowing York to take a 30-21 lead to the intermission.

The Spartan lead could have been higher but York struggled from the floor, shooting just 37.9% despite running outstanding offense against the Saints' zone.

The second half made the first half look like an offensive explosion as both defenses settled in and made it very difficult for the other team to score. The Spartans, much like they did in the first half, jumped on the Saints with two threes from Sparkman and a Hicks lay up as the Spartan lead ballooned to a game-high 15 points. The Spartans then went almost seven full minutes with just one basket, a Madeline Sloan hoop at the 13:12 mark. While the Spartans were struggling to score the ball, the Saints were struggling as well. Despite York's drought, the Saints couldn't get their deficit below double figures during the stretch.

The Saints finally got something going as they used a 6-0 run to cut the York lead to five at 44-39 with 5:05 left in the game. Sophomore Loreta Tonuzi hit a big lay up at the 4:32 mark to stem the Saint tide. The two teams would then go a combined 3:59 without scoring as York held onto the seven-point lead. Hicks hit a pair of free throws with 1:33 left as the York lead grew to nine. Julie Tomesheski converted a lay up at the 1:10 mark to cut the York lead to seven. Hick finished off the scoring for York as she hit five of six free throws over the final 54 seconds to salt away the conference win.

York finished the game shooting a season-low 31% from the floor while they converted just 6-of-27 (22.2%) from three. The 27 attempts from distance were a season-high while the six makes were tied for the second lowest total of the year. The Spartans also struggled from the free throw line making 11-of-17. The 64.7% accuracy mark from the stripe is their worst free throw shooting game of the campaign.

Marymount was not much better from the floor, shooting just 37% including just 1-of-9 from three. The Saints made only 8-of-12 (66.7%) from the charity stripe. The 43 points for Marymount is a season-low, as previously they had not been held below 51 for the year. The 17 field goals for Marymount tied their season low while the one three pointer made was their worst effort of the year from distance.

Hicks led the Spartans as the sophomore tallied 16 points and pulled in 10 rebounds for her second consecutive double-double. It was the third double-double of her career. Hicks was a stellar 7-for-8 from the line while she also had two assists and two steals. Sparkman added 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Sophomore Kristen Haley was the third Spartan in double figures with 11 points while she also had three rebounds and two blocked shots. Sophomore point guard Aja Wallpher dished out a season-high 11 assists while she only had three turnovers in 37 minutes of work. Wallpher also had five rebounds and two steals for York.

Tomesheski led the Saints with a season-high 19 points while she added nine rebounds. Tomesheski was 9-for-14 from the floor but just 1-for-5 from free throw line. Sophomore Katelyn Fischer, the conference's top scorer at 22.5 points per game, was held in check by Wallpher as Fischer ended the contest with six points on 1-of-5 shooting. Fischer did pull in nine rebounds and hand out eight assists but she did commit seven of the Saints' 22 turnovers. Samantha Kane added nine points and nine assists for the Saints.

The Spartans return to action on Wednesday night as they host St. Mary's College in another CAC clash. Tip time at Charles Wolf Gymnasium is set for 6:00 pm.

Aja Wallpher photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh (www.sharpedgefoto.com)