YORK, PA – The York College women's basketball team held off a furious second half comeback from Wesley College to capture their first Capital Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament championship, 70-66, on Saturday in York. The Spartans entered the tournament as the three seed and will now make their second NCAA Tournament appearance in three years thanks to the automatic bid that comes along with the tournament championship.
The Spartans have now won four straight and head into the NCAA Tournament with a mark of 16-12. The Wolverines conclude their season at 16-12.
Senior Jaimie Sapp led all scorers as the forward had 23 points and eight rebounds. Senior Cory Boyd paced Wesley with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots.
The Wolverines led York 5-0 early as neither team could find the basket. York opened the game 1-for-9 from the field before catching fire. The Spartans went on a 19-5 run to take a 19-10 lead with 11:03 left in the first half. Freshmen Kristen Haley and Brittany Hicks fueled the run with eight and five points respectively.
York maintained the lead between seven and 11 over the next five minutes before a quick 7-0 Spartan spurt pushed the lead to 16 at 32-16 with 6:01 left. The Spartans eventually pushed the lead to 22 on two different occasions before Boyd canned a three with two seconds left in the half to cut the York lead to 44-27 at the break.
The reason for the Spartan first-half advantage was two-fold. After their slow shooting start, the Spartans ended the half making 14 of their final 23 shots of the half, good for a 60.8% field goal percentage. The Green and White also dominated the glass, holding a 25-13 edge on the boards. The Wolverines had just three offensive rebounds while the Spartans had 17 defensive caroms. The Spartans also were a perfect 10-for-10 at the stripe in the first 20 minutes.
The second half proved to be quite a different stanza. The Spartans started the half with back-to-back baskets from Sapp and Hicks as the Spartan lead got back to 21 at 48-27. The Wolverines then embarked on a sustained 18-4 run, cutting the once large and formidable Spartan lead down to just seven at 52-45.
York maintained the lead, pushing back to 11 on a Haley lay up with 11:04 remaining but the veteran Wolverines were not going away. Haley hit a lay up with 8:06 left that gave the Spartans a 64-56 lead. The Wolverines then scored seven straight points, cutting the York lead to just one with 3:44 remaining in regulation.
After a Spartan timeout, Hicks was fouled and converted two clutch free throws to push the York lead back to three. The Spartans dodged a bullet in the next Wolverine possession as Jazmine Miller got a good look, missed the shot, got an offensive rebound and missed a second attempt before Sapp collected the rebound and was fouled. Sapp stepped to the line with 1:27 left and hit a pair of huge free throws, extending the York lead to five.
The Spartans got another defensive stop as Boyd missed a runner in the lane and Haley collected the defensive board. The Spartans then ran the shot clock down and got a tough shot from Aja Wallpher but Haley came up with the huge offensive rebound off a scramble that kept the ball with York with 39.6 seconds left. Hicks wasn't able to convert the two free throws after Wesley fouled but Boyd missed again the ensuing possession and Haley got the rebound.
The last 34 seconds were quite wild as the Spartans had a turnover when it appeared Wesley was trying to foul and Miller canned a three from the right corner with eight seconds left. Wallpher then iced the game with two free throws with six seconds left to seal the championship for York.
The Wolverines dominated the second half of play but dug the hole a little too deep in the first half. Also, senior center and multiple-time All-CAC selection Angie Owens battled foul trouble and fouled out with 5:01 left in the game. Wesley outrebounded the Spartans 31-16 in the second half as they attempted seven more shots in the second stanza. The York free throw shooting was key as York sunk 8-for-11 from the line in the half.
Sapp's 23 points came on 9-of-17 shooting including a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Haley added 15 points and 13 rebounds for her team-leading sixth double-double of the year. She was 6-for-11 from the floor and 3-for-3 from the free throw line. Haley also had three blocks in her 32 minutes of work. Hicks and Wallpher each added 12 points to the Spartan cause. Hicks was 3-for-6 from the floor, 2-for-2 from three and 4-for-6 from the line. She also pulled in five rebounds and handed out three assists for YCP. Wallpher had seven assists, three steals, and four rebounds as she played all 40 minutes for York. Kelsey Murphy added eight points and a career-high eight rebounds while she did not commit a turnover in her 36 minutes of play.
Boyd finished 6-of-20 shooting including 3-of-7 from three as Murphy harassed the senior all day long. Boyd was 7-for-10 from the free throw line in her final collegiate game. Miller added 14 points, eight rebounds and two steals for the Wolverines. She was 6-for-19 from the floor, 1-for-3 from distance, and 1-for-2 from three. Allison Beddia was the final Wolverine in double figures with 11 points. Owens was held to just nine points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. Heather Fuller paced Wesley on the glass with 11 caroms while she also contributed six points.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 38.7% from the floor, 33.3% from three, and a season-best 85.7% (18-for-21) from the charity stripe. The Wolverines shot 35.4% from the field, 35.3% (6-for-17) from three and 66.7% (14-for-21) from the free throw line.
Wesley held a 44-41 edge in rebounding including the big second half advantage on the glass. The Wolverines had 12 second-half offensive rebounds while York had just three. All three of York's second half offensive caroms came in the final four minutes of the game.
The Spartans did a great job of taking care of the ball as they committed just 11 turnovers, which is a season low for YCP.
The Spartans now await the NCAA Tournament selection show to see where they are headed for next week's first round. The selection show is slated for broadcast on Monday afternoon at www.ncaa.com at 3:00 pm.