Hot Shooting Lifts Messiah over Spartans in Opener

    YORK, PA-The York College women’s basketball squad dropped their 2008-09 opener as the 13th ranked Messiah College Falcons bested the Spartans 82-76 on Saturday afternoon in York. The Falcons, who advanced to the NCAA Division III championship game last year, improve to 1-0 while the green and white begin the season 0-1.
    The game started well for York as they notched the first bucket of the game but the Falcons responded with a 7-0 spurt to take the early advantage. The Spartans battled back and eventually took the lead on an Amy Fry (Carlisle, Pa./Big Spring) lay up with 12:06 left in the half. After Messiah recaptured the lead, York took their final advantage of the game on a Donna Figenshu (Kennett Square, Pa./Unionville) triple with 10:13 remaining in the half. That three put York up 16-15 and seemed to light a fire under the Falcons. After Figenshu’s triple, the Falcons went on an 11-2 run that pushed the lead to eight at 26-18. The Spartans trimmed the Falcon lead to three at 32-29 on an April Sparkman (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville) lay up with 1:48 left. Messiah then seized all the momentum as they blitzed York with back-to-back threes from Katie Kalb and Angie Rapchinski followed by a Julie Henninger lay up in 54 seconds, turning a three-point Spartan deficit into an 11-point Falcon bulge. York cut the lead to eight at the break as Messiah led 41-33. However, that eight point spurt sapped the Spartan of valuable momentum.
    The Spartans were very fortunate their halftime deficit wasn’t greater as Messiah shot 64% from the floor in the first half including 5-of-6 from three. The Falcons committed 11 first half turnovers that held their field goal attempts to just 25 in the first half.
    The second half saw one reoccurring theme. The Spartans would cut into the Falcon lead only to see the guests answer with a run, keeping the green and white at bay.
    York opened the second half with a quick spurt that cut the Falcon lead to 47-42 before Messiah scored seven straight points to increase the lead back to 54-42 with 11:57 left in regulation. The Falcons eventually pushed the lead to a game-high 14 points at 66-52 with 5:15 left. York fashioned a quick 9-3 spurt to cut the lead to eight at 69-61 with 3:06 left. The Falcons answered with a back-breaking three from Rapchinski with just under two minutes left, pushing the Falcon lead to 72-61. The Spartans were undeterred as Chanel Perez (Biglerville, Pa./Gettysburg) drained a three with 31 seconds left, pulling the Spartans to within four at 76-72. The Spartans cut the lead to four two other times in the final 30 seconds but each time, the Falcons stepped to the free throw line to hold off the hosts. Messiah converted their final 10 attempts at the free throw line over the final 1:13 of the game to salt away the win.
    Ashley Brooks paced the Falcons as she poured in a game-high 23 points. Brooks was a blistering 9-for-10 from the floor including 1-for-2 from three and 4-for-5 from the free throw line. She also had four assists and two steals in the win. Rapchinski came off the bench and added 20 points as she drilled all four of her three point attempts. Kalb was the third Falcon in double figures as she tallied 16 points. Kalb was 5-for-9 from the floor, 2-for-3 from three, and 4-for-4 at the stripe. Silalei Shani notched a game-high 12 rebounds while she added nine points, two blocks and one steal.
    Spartan senior Keli Ward (Nottingham, Pa./Oxford) led York as she tallied 18 points and tied her career-high with 11 assists and just two turnovers in 37 minutes of work. Ward also pulled in seven rebounds, notched two steals and blocked a shot. Perez recorded 20 points, just two short of her career-high. Perez was 8-for-14 from the floor including a career-high two threes. Sparkman was the third Spartan in double figures with 18 points and nine rebounds as she narrowly missed a double-double.
    The Falcons finished the game shooting 54.5% from the floor including 7-for-9 from three. Messiah also converted 15-of-19 (78.9%) from the free throw line. York shot 45.1% from the floor but went just 5-for-18 (27.8%) from three. The Spartans went 7-for-11 from the free throw line in the loss. York finished the game with a slight 35-34 edge on the glass while Messiah turned 19 York turnovers into 27 points. The Spartans tallied 20 points off Messiah’s 20 miscues.
    The Spartans return to action on Tuesday, November 18 when they host Rowan in a non-conference contest. Tip time is set for 7:00 pm.


Keli Ward photo courtesy of Eric Linsley.