GETTYSBURG, PA - The nationally ranked York College women's basketball team shook off a very sluggish first half to upend host Gettysburg College 63-58 in a non-conference contest in Bream Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon.
The Spartans, who are ranked 17th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 and 18th in the d3hoops.com poll, improve to 4-0 overall while the Bullets fall to 1-3.
The Bullets sprinted out to an early 6-0 lead on the strength of two Rianna Doane triples. The Spartans ripped off the next eight points to take their first lead of the game. After the Bullets scored two straight buckets, junior Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation) banged home the second of her two first-half threes as York took an 11-10 lead.
The Bullets would clamp down on the Spartans as they held York to five points over the next seven minutes. Gettysburg built their lead to six at 22-16 thanks to their defensive effort. York trimmed their deficit to one with five straight points but Caroline Murphy hit a pair of free throws and Cori Younghans hit a runner inside the arc just before the intermission as Gettysburg took a 26-21 lead to the break.
The Bullets came out of the break carrying over the momentum of their half-ending 5-0 spurt as they scored nine of the first 13 points of the second half to take a 35-25 lead with 15:25 remaining in regulation.
The Spartans chipped away at their deficit, fashioning a 13-3 run that tied the game at 38. That tie would begin a stretch of four ties and two lead changes. With the game tied at 48, junior Aja Wallpher (Ellicott City, Md./Seton Keough) hit a tough reverse lay up and was fouled to give York a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The three-point play gave York a 51-48 lead with 2:13 remaining in the game.
York eventually built the lead to six on a Brittany Hicks (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) free throw with 1:05 remaining in the contest. The Bullets would not go away as they got five points from Murphy. The Bullet forward hit a long jumper and then converted a traditional three-point play as the Spartan lead dwindled to 54-53.
Hicks then began a Spartan parade to the free throw line over the final 32 seconds as she went 5-for-6 from the stripe over the final seconds to maintain the Spartan lead. The end was not the cleanest from the Green and White as they committed two fouls in the final 15 seconds while trying to nurse their lead but it would not hurt them as York settled for the hard-earned five point road win.
Hicks was again outstanding as she registered her fourth double-double in as many games with a game-high 21 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. She was 4-for-8 from the floor including one three. Hicks also went 12-for-16 from the free throw line in the win. The 12 makes and the 16 attempts were both career-highs for the Spartan junior forward.
Haley added 16 points, nine rebounds, and a career-high six steals in her 33 minutes of work. Haley has had a pair of blocked shots in the victory. Wallpher was the third Spartan in double figures as she tallied 12 points, a game-high seven assists, and two rebounds for the Spartans. Senior Loreta Tonuzi (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) tied a career-high with eight points off the bench for York.
Murphy paced the Bullets as she tallied 20 points while she also had nine rebounds in 36 minutes of work. Murphy was 7-for-9 from the floor including 1-for-1 from three and 5-for-5 from the line. Doane added nine points, four rebounds, and two assists for the Bullets.
The Spartans continued to struggle from the field as the converted just 29.2% of their shots from the floor including 28.6% (6-for-21) from three. The Spartans, buoyed by Hicks' 12-for-16 performance from the line, went 19-for-25 (76%) from the stripe for the game.
Gettysburg shot 39.5% from the field, 28.6% (4-for-14) from three and 74.1% (20-for-27) from the line.
The Spartans held a decided edge on the glass as they outrebounded their hosts 44-37 for the game. The Green and White's margin on the glass was even more pronounced as York collected 17 offensive rebounds in the win. The Spartans attempted 22 more field goals in the game thanks to their edge on the boards.
Spartan head coach Betsy Witman was happy to get out of Gettysburg with a win.
"I thought we were very sluggish in the first half and sometimes after Thanksgiving you tend to be that way. I thought we really picked it up in the second half," said Witman. "I thought Aja Wallpher really stepped up in the second half and was a leader. She played smart and we started to score after really struggling in the first half. Overall, defensively we did a decent job."
The Spartans have a quick turn around as they head to Goucher College on Tuesday night for a non-conference contest. Game time from Towson, MD is set for 6:00 pm.
Aja Wallpher photo courtesy of Scott Guise - Director of Athletic Communications