Big Second-Half Run Lifts #17 Catholic Over #18 Spartans

YORK, PA – The nationally ranked Catholic University Cardinals came into Charles Wolf Gymnasium and used a 21-5 second half run to earn a 60-52 non-conference win over the host York College Spartans on Monday night York.

The Cardinals, who are ranked 17th in the D3hoops.com Poll and 21st in the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll, remain perfect at 13-0. The Spartans, ranked 18th in the D3Hoops.com Poll and 11th in the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll, fall to 11-2 overall as they have dropped two straight after their school-record 11-0 start.

The two-game skid is the first the Spartans have had since February 12 and 16, 2011 when they lost to Mary Washington and Wesley in consecutive games.

The Spartans opened the second half with junior Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation) scoring the first 12 points of the half for the Green and White. Her final bucket came at the 14:58 mark and started an 8-0 run that gave the Spartans a 42-35 lead with 13 minutes left in the game.

The Spartan lead grew to eight points twice with the final time coming on a Brittany Hicks (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) jumper with 10:13 left in the game. That's when the Cardinals kicked it into gear. Catholic held the Spartans scoreless over the next 5:10 as the Cardinals went on a 9-0 spurt to take a 48-47 lead. York's Kelsey Murphy (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) canned a lay up to give the Spartans a temporary 49-48 lead. Katrinia Owunna hit a lean in post move just over 20 seconds later and the Cardinals would not trail again.

Owunna outscored York 10-2 over the final 4:44 to seal the win in the battle of nationally ranked squads.

The first half was back and forth and full of turnovers as neither team gained any significant traction. With the game tied at 12, York went on an 8-2 run to take a 20-16 lead, their largest margin of the half. York maintained the lead until the last 40 seconds of the half as the Cardinals got two Spartan turnovers and turned them into Karlyn Dixon buckets as the two teams headed to the break tied at 24. The first half featured a combined 26 turnovers and 34.5% shooting.

Emily Grabiak paced a balanced Cardinal effort as she had 14 points in her 25 minutes of action. Grabiak was 6-for-10 from the floor and 2-for-2 from three for CUA. The Cardinals' leading scorer Jill Woerner was held to 12 points, more than six points under her average. Woerner went 6-for-18 from the floor but she did pull in a team-high nine rebounds. She also had four steals and two assists for the Cardinals.

Seven other Cardinals reached the scoring column as CUA played 11 players in the victory.

Haley and senior Loreta Tonuzi (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) each tallied 12 points for the Spartans. Haley scored all of her points in the first nine minutes of the second half. She was 6-for-11 from the floor while she also had four rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal. Tonuzi provided another huge boost off the bench as the 12 points established a new career-high for the senior captain. Tonuzi converted a career-high four three pointers in just 16 minutes of work. Point guard Aja Wallpher (Ellicott City, Md./Seton Keough) had eight points, seven assists, four steals and two rebounds in the loss. Hicks led the Spartans on the glass with 12 rebounds while she chipped in with seven points, two assists, two blocks and a steal.

The Spartans' lack of depth was evident as the five starters all played over 31 minutes. That wear on the starters came in York's third game in five days. Tonuzi was the only non-starter to play more than five minutes in the contest. Conversely, Catholic had two starters play over 30 minutes as eight players played double figure minutes for the Cardinals.

 Neither team shot the ball well from the field, not an unexpected fact as both teams are ranked defensively in the nation. Catholic is sixth in field goal percentage defense while York is 18th. The Spartans are 17th in scoring defense while the Cardinals entered the game 32nd.

The Cardinals shot 37.9% from the floor and 50% (3-for-6) from three. The Spartans converted 36.2% from the field while they went 7-for-21 (33.3%) from distance. The Cardinals held a significant advantage at the free throw line as they went 13-for-17 from the stripe while York was just 3-for-4. The four attempts for York are the lowest number of makes and attempts dating back to before the 2008-09 season. The Spartans entered the game attempting an average of 20.5 free throws per contest.

Turnovers proved to be very costly to York as the Cardinals turned the Green and White over 25 times, converting those miscues into 24 points. York was not nearly as efficient in converting the 19 Cardinal turnovers as the Spartans only got eight points off CUA mistakes.

The Cardinals held a slight 39-38 edge in total rebounds, however, Catholic had two huge offensive rebounds in the final 50 seconds as they were clinging to just a four point lead.

The Spartans get very little rest as they return to action on Wednesday to resume conference play at Wolf Gymnasium. York welcomes Salisbury University to York for a 6:00 pm contest.

Kristen Haley photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh (www.sharpedgefoto.com)

Audio Highlights courtesy of Darrell Henry - Voice of the Spartans