ST. MARY'S CITY, MD - The nationally ranked York College Spartan women's basketball team opened their three-game road trip with a 64-43 Capital Athletic Conference win at St. Mary's College on Wednesday night.
The Spartans improve to 21-1 overall and 13-1 in the CAC. The Seahawks fall to 8-13 overall and 5-9 in the CAC. The win clinches a top two seed and a first round bye in the upcoming CAC Tournament. York will host a semifinal game on Thursday, February 27 at Charles Wolf Gym.
York is ranked tenth according to D3hoops.com and 14th in the USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll.
York got off to a painfully slow start as they trailed 8-7 almost nine minutes into the game. Then senior Kelsey Murphy (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) drained a three at the top of the key to kick start a 25-2 Spartan run that turned a two point deficit into 32-10 advantage. Murphy had seven points on the spurt as did fellow senior Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation). Haley's seven points came in a row as she hit a three, a layup and then converted a pair of free throws.
The Spartans took advantage of their chances at the free throw line in the first half as they converted 15-of-18 from the stripe including their last 12 in a row of the stanza.
The Seahawks came out of the intermission quickly as they scored the first five points of the half to cut the Spartan lead to 15. The Seahawks eventually trimmed the Spartan advantage to 14 at 40-26. The Green and White fashioned a 17-3 run that pushed their lead to 57-29 with 6:45 left in the game. That 28-point lead would be the high water mark and allowed Spartan head coach Betsy Witman to empty the bench.
The Seahawks outscored York 10-3 in the final 3:43 of the game to provide for the final 21-point advantage.
Murphy led the Spartans as the senior guard tallied 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the floor including 3-for-6 from three and 2-for-5 from the free throw line. Haley added 13 points and nine rebounds as she narrowly missed a double-double. Haley was 5-for-9 from the floor, 1-for-2 from three and 2-for-2 from the stripe. Haley played just 18 minutes due to foul trouble in the game.
York had 11 players reach the scoring column in the win. Junior Kailee Knight (Crofton, Md./South River) played a very good game with six points and five rebounds in her 17 minutes of work.
Shana Lewis led the Seahawks with 10 points and eight rebounds. Lewis was 3-for-10 from the floor and 4-for-10 from the free throw line. Sophie Pruden added nine points and eight boards for SMC.
York shot a cool 38.2%f from the floor and 7-for-19 (36.8%) from three. After shooting 83.3% from the free throw line in the first half, the Spartans went 0-for-6 from the stripe in the second half to finish 15-for-24 (62.5%) for the game.
St. Mary's shot 27.8% from the field in the game while York held the Seahawks to just 2-for-12 (16.7%) from three. The Seahawks were cold from the charity stripe as they went 11-for-20 (55%).
York dominated on the glass, holding a 47-39 margin in rebounding. The Spartans forced 15 St. Mary's turnovers as they turned those miscues into 17 points. York got 27 points off their bench in the win.
The Spartans got good news about 30 minutes after their game as Christopher Newport, the only other one-loss team in the CAC coming into Wednesday's action, suffered a 74-44 conference loss at home against Mary Washington. That CNU loss gives York the inside track for the number one seed in the CAC. If York can win their remaining two conference games, they would capture the top spot in the league.
The Spartans will face a stern test on Saturday as they travel to Salisbury University to square off against the Sea Gulls. The Spartans had to overcome a 15-point deficit in the first meeting with Salisbury as York won 77-72 in come from behind fashion.
Tip time at Maggs Gymnasium is set for 2:00 pm on Saturday afternoon.