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Sparkman and Ruiz Help Spartans Down Bison
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The York College women’s basketball team picked up a much needed Capital Athletic Conference win as the Spartans bounced Gallaudet University 70-54 in the final regular season conference meeting between the two squads on Monday night in Washington, D.C. The Bison are leaving the Capital Athletic Conference after this season making this the last time they would meet as conference foes.
The Spartans, who are battling for a seed in the upcoming six-team CAC Tournament, improve to 10-13 overall and 6-8 in the CAC as they have moved into a tie for fifth with Salisbury. Currently the Spartans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Sea Gulls as York swept the regular season series. Gallaudet falls out a half a game out of the playoffs as they are now 6-9 in the CAC and 11-11 overall.
The Spartans got off to a good start as they led by five twice in the opening five minutes of play. The Bison went on a 12-4 run to take an 18-15 lead at the 9:32 mark. Junior April Sparkman (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville), who earlier in the day was named the CAC Player-of-the-Week, began a Spartan run with a lay up followed by a Gayle Exley (Spring City, Pa./Owen J. Roberts) triple as the Spartans took the 20-18 lead. Those hoops would be the start of a 12-1 run that increased the Spartan lead to 27-18 with 5:26 remaining in the half. The York lead grew to ten on an Exley jumper before a Bison free throw ended the half leaving the Spartans’ halftime lead at 34-25.
The Spartans exploded out of the half with a 15-2 spurt that drove the York lead to 22 just 4:11 into the second 20 minutes of play. The Bison cut the Spartan lead to 13 at 50-37 but the Green and White answered with a 7-1 run that increased the lead back to 18. Gallaudet trimmed the lead to 14 four different times over the final seven minutes of the game but they would get no closer. The victory was the Spartans’ 23rd in the last 24 games against Gallaudet. The Bison hammered the Spartans earlier in the year, stopping a 22-game York win streak against the Buff and Blue.
Sparkman was more than worthy of her most recent CAC award as she recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. She also had five assists, two steals and a blocked shot in her 40 minutes of work. Sparkman was 10-for-21 from the floor including a three pointer. For the first time this year, Sparkman didn’t make a trip to the free throw line. The double-double was her ninth of the second and second straight.
Freshman Cinthia Ruiz (Hampstead, Md./North Carroll) recorded a career-high 19 points on a very efficient 8-of-12 from the field including 3-of-6 from three. Exley continues to play well for the Green and White as she contributed 12 points and eight rebounds. Exley was 4-for-7 from the floor, 2-of-2 from three, and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. She also had two assists in the win.
Bison standout East Faafiti was outstanding for Gallaudet as the junior forward poured in 34 points while she grabbed 12 rebounds. Faafiti was 14-for-23 from the floor and 6-for-9 from the line. No other Bison scored more than six points in the loss, their fourth in the last five games and seventh in their last nine contests after a 9-4 start to the season.
York finished the game shooting 44.3% from the floor but converted a blistering 53.8% in the second half. It is the just the eighth time this year that the Spartan field goal percentage has been above the 40% mark, however it is the fourth time in the last five games they have eclipsed that standard. The Green and White went 7-for-22 (31.8%) from three and 9-for-12 (75%) from the free throw line.
Gallaudet shot 40% from the floor but struggled from both the free throw line, 13-for-25 (52%), and beyond the arc, 1-for-7 (14.3%). Taking Faafiti out of the Bison line up and Gallaudet went just 6-for-26 from the floor and 7-for-14 from the stripe.
The Spartans held a slight 37-35 edge on the glass while the Spartans forced 19 Bison turnovers. York turned those Gallaudet miscues into 17 points. The Spartans had just 12 turnovers, which is their second-lowest total of the year.
The Green and White conclude their regular season with two more road games. They travel to Stevenson on Wednesday night to face the Mustangs at 5:00 pm. They finish the regular season on Saturday afternoon with a trip to St. Mary’s City, MD. If the Spartans can capture a pair of victories, they may be able to secure a top four seed and earn the right to host a first round game in next week’s CAC Tournament.
Cinthia Ruiz photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh (www.sharpedgephoto.smugmug.com)