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Big Second Half Rally Lift Mary Washington to CAC Title
YORK, PA-The University of Mary Washington used outstanding defense and timely shooting to hand the fifth-ranked York College Spartans a stunning 67-56 loss in the championship game of the 2009 Capital Athletic Conference tournament. The Spartans had their school-record 25-game win streak snapped as they fall to 25-2. The Spartans were the regular season conference champions as they went an unprecedented 16-0 for the CAC regular season but it wasn’t enough to earn the tournament title. The Eagles, who captured their third straight CAC title and their fourth in five years, improve to 23-5 with the victory.
Things looked good for York as they pushed out to a 16-9 lead just over 7:30 into the game. The Spartan lead stood at three with 6:37 left but the Eagles went on a quick 9-2 run to take a 32-28 lead just before the half. The Spartans answered by bagging the last five points of the half to take a 33-32 lead to the break.
The second half looked like it was going to follow the script the Spartans have written all season as they came out of the break and scored the first nine points of the half to take a 42-32 lead. That’s were the Eagles decided they needed to rewrite that script as they held the Spartans to just 14 points over the final 16:10 of the game. Mary Washington needed just four minutes to erase the Spartans’ 10 point advantage, taking the lead on a pair of Rachel Martin free throws with 12:05 remaining in the game. The contest would be tied on three more occasions, the last one coming at 52 on a pair of Jaimie Sapp (Bluemont, Va./Loudon Valley) free throws with 7:23 remaining. From then on, the Eagles outscored the Spartans 15-4 as York could not summon the magic they have had all season in dropping their first contest since November 15.
York shot just 18.4% in the second half as they picked a bad time for their worst shooting half of the year. York, the CAC’s top field goal percentage shooting team heading into the championship game, also finished the game shooting 31.8% from the floor, their worst performance of the year by over six percentage points.
Mary Washington received a number of strong efforts as they were led by freshman Katie Wimmer as she had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Wimmer also had four assists and two steals. Katy Larson and Lauren Kornacki each contributed 13 points to the balanced Eagle attack. Kornacki was 6-for-7 from the floor while she also had four rebounds. Larson chipped in with six rebounds and four assists. Senior post Ashton Mitchell contributed 12 points, six boards and three blocked shots in the game.
The Spartans were led by senior guard Keli Ward (Nottingham, Pa./Oxford) and Sapp as they each tallied 16 points. Ward added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in her 40 minutes of action. Sapp chipped in with three rebounds. Sophomore April Sparkman (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville) contributed eight points and nine rebounds in the loss. Ward, Sapp, and Sparkman were responsible for 40 of York’s 56 points.
Mary Washington really took it to the Spartans on the glass, holding a 44-35 edge on the glass. The Eagles had a 15-9 edge in second-chance points while they also outscored York 30-24 in points in the paint. The Eagles also blitzed the Spartans with a 23-8 edge in points off the bench.
Mary Washington ended the contest shooting 42.6% from the floor and 26.3% from three. The Eagles converted 76.2% from the line as they were 16-for-21. York finished the game shooting 85.7% from the line, making 12-of-14.
The Spartans are now forced to wait to see where and when they will be participating in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Spartans, who must now earn an at-large bid, will find out all that information when the tournament field is announced on Monday at 11:00 am. The announcement will be taking place through the NCAA website at www.ncaa.com.