YORK, PA – The William Paterson women's basketball captured the championship of the 2011 Coaches vs. Cancer at York College on Friday as the sixth-ranked Pioneers downed the host Spartans 74-61 in the tournament title game. The Pioneers remain perfect as they improve to 12-0 while the Spartans have their nine game win streak snapped as they fall to 9-2 overall.
The Pioneers jumped out to an early 6-0 lead before the Spartans went on an 11-2 run to seize the 11-8 advantage. The Spartans would match that three-point lead a few possessions later but Paterson slowly pushed out to a 26-19 lead with 6:25 left in the first half. The Pioneers increased the advantage to eight on an April Smith three pointer but York responded with a 7-0 run, cutting the WPU led to just one at 31-30 with 1:46 remaining in the half. WPU quickly scored two straight baskets pushing the lead to five before a pair of York free throws trimmed it to three. Kierra Walker ended the half with a jumper as the Pioneers took a 37-32 advantage to the break.
William Paterson came out of the half and looked poised to blow the Spartans out of Wolf Gymnasium. The Pioneers opened the stanza with a 12-3 run, increasing their lead to 49-35. Junior Brittany Hicks drilled a pair of free throws to stem the tide. In fact, Hicks' free throws started a 13-2 run that drew the Spartans to within three at 51-48 with 10:40 left.
Then came the biggest play in the game as the Pioneers had a missed shot that looked like had been rebounded by York only to have the ball glance off guard Brittany Percich and into the hands of Smith who converted the lay up and the free throw to double the lead back to six. Smith's three point play kick started an 11-0 run that pushed the Pioneer lead back to 14 at 62-48. That proved to be too much for the Spartans, who rode their starters for more minutes in Thursday's semifinals and again in the tournament championship, to overcome.
After the big Pioneer run, the Spartans managed to get the lead down to nine twice but weren't able to get any closer as the Green and White's lengthy win streak was snapped.
Turnovers were a big problem for the Spartans as they committed 26 miscues that William Paterson turned into 29 points. The 26 turnovers are the second-highest total of the year and the Pioneers made York pay like no other team had previously this year.
Paterson also hurt York on the offensive glass as the Pioneers had 19 offensive rebounds which led to 21 second-chance points. Overall, WPU held a 42-40 edge on the glass. Those offensive rebounds also led to William Paterson holding a 71-58 edge in total shots for the game.
The Pioneers were powered by tournament MVP Smith as the forward had another double-double with 23 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. She was 8-for-16 from the floor including 2-for-3 from three. Smith also converted all five of her free throw attempts while she blocked five shots and had four steals. All-American guard BriAnna Lucas, who also earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, finished the game with 23 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Lucas was 7-for-18 from the floor and 9-for-10 from the line. Dana Jeter was the third Pioneer in double figures with ten points while she also had five rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals.
York was led by All-Tournament team selection Kristen Haley as the sophomore forward notched her fourth double-double of the year and the 11th of her career. She tallied 16 points while she also had a team-high 11 rebounds. Haley was 7-for-12 from the floor including 1-for-3 from three. She also converted her lone free throw attempt. Hicks led York in scoring with 17 points while she also had seven rebounds. Hicks was 4-for-8 from the floor and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. Senior April Sparkman also recorded a double-double for York as she notched 15 points and 10 rebounds. The senior guard also had a season-high four blocked shots in addition to four assists.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 37.9% from the floor and 16.7% (2-for-12) from three. York was solid at the stripe, knocking down 15-of-20 (75%). Paterson was slightly more accurate from the field as they shot 38% including 18.2% (2-for-11) from three. The Pioneers were deadly from the line, converting 18-of-19 (94.6%) in the win.
FDU-Florham captured the consolation game in overtime, outlasting Ursinus 84-82 in overtime.
The all-tournament team featured Smith as the MVP while Lucas and Haley earned berths on the team. Florham's Jalessa Lewis and Ursinus' Diamond Lewis rounded out the All-Tournament squad.
The Spartans return to action on Thursday evening when they travel to Elizabethtown College to face the Blue Jays in a non-conference tilt. Game time in Elizabethtown is set for 7:00 pm.
Tournament Box Scores