ROCHESTER, NY-In a game that saw a superb defensive effort from both teams, the York College women’s basketball team saw their unbelievable season come to an end as the University of Scranton Royals used rough and tumble defensive effort to upend the Spartans 50-46 in the Sweet 16 of the 2009 NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday night in Rochester, NY. The Spartans conclude their record-setting season with a mark of 27-3 while the Royals advance to face the winner of the Rochester/College of New Jersey contest in Saturday’s Elite Eight game. The Royals improve to 26-4 with the win.
The story of the game for the Spartans was their inability, much to the credit of Scranton’s defense, to get their high octane offense into gear. The Spartans went through extended stretches of the game where they were unable to put points up on the board. Much to the credit of the Spartan defense, the Royals were never able to put York away in the game as it was the lowest combined score of the year in a game involving the Spartans.
The Spartans fell behind early but used a 14-2 run to take a 14-5 lead. That would match their largest lead of the game with 11:08 remaining in the first half. The Royals responded with a 9-2 run to cut the Spartan lead to a deuce at 16-14. The Royals eventually took a one-point lead courtesy of an Emily Rainey three with 3:16 remaining in the opening stanza. York recaptured the lead on an Amanda Andrews (Fallston, Md./Fallston) triple and they would hold on to the lead the remainder of the half. The Spartans took a 27-25 lead to the intermission.
The Green and White could have had a much larger lead at the break but the Spartans missed a number of point-blank shots in the first half. York shot 47.8% in the opening half and out-rebounded Scranton 22-11 but still held just the two point bulge at half.
The second half was a clinic in defensive basketball. Both teams struggled to get into sync offensively as the defense dominated both sides.
The Spartans got out to a five point lead just under three minutes into the half as they looked like they might start pulling away. The Royals scored five straight, tying the game at 32. The two teams would not be separated by more than five points the rest of the way. The Royals took that five point lead on a Colleen McLane triple with 7:12 remaining in the game. York had a number of chances to cut into the lead but struggled to convert good offensive chances. The Spartans worked the lead down to 46-44 with 1:09 remaining. The Royals pushed the advantage back to four with a pair of Megan Kopecki free throws with 42 ticks left. The Spartans got a Keli Ward (Nottingham, Pa./Oxford) lay up with 33 seconds left, cutting it back to two at 48-46.
That set the stage for a wild ending to the game. The Spartans got a traveling call with 28 seconds left to get the ball. However, the Green and White gave it right back with a traveling violation of their own with 14.2 seconds left. The Spartans then had to foul. It appeared that they had at least three fouls in the final 10 seconds but none were called as the Royals got an uncontested lay up to seal the win and their berth in the Elite Eight.
Kopecki led all scorers with 16 points while she added four rebounds, four assists, and three steals in her 33 minutes of work. Kopecki was 6-for-13 from the floor, 1-for-3 from three and 3-for-5 from the charity stripe. Molly Klusek added six points and a team-best seven rebounds for the Royals.
Sophomore April Sparkman (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville) led the Green and White with 14 points while she also collected six boards. Senior Chanel Perez (Biglerville, Pa./Gettysburg) contributed 10 points and nine rebounds in her final collegiate game. Perez was 5-for-8 from the floor while she also had two assists and a blocked shot. Andrews was the third Spartan in double figures with 11 points and a team-high three steals. Ward closed out her brilliant career with six points but a game-high 12 rebounds in addition to her four assists in her 40 minutes of action.
The Spartans finished the game shooting just 37.5% from the floor as they were held to the lowest point total of the season. The 25 turnovers were a season-high for the Green and White. They entered the game second in the nation in assist to turnover ratio but the Royals were able to pick up 18 points off the Spartan miscues.
The loss closes out the unbelievable career of six Spartans. Ward, Perez, Andrews, Amy Fry (Carlisle, Pa./Big Spring), Donna Figenshu (Kennett Square, Pa./Unionville), and Jackie Garlock (Bedford, Pa./Bedford) took off the green and white for the final time after the game. The class has compiled the best four year mark of any Spartan class as then went 79-32, good for a winning percentage of 71.2%. Those 79 wins are 18 more than any four-year class in Spartan history.
The Spartans close out the season with a number of school records including wins in a season with 27 and a win streak of 25 straight games.