November 16, 2011

Cold Shooting Hampers Spartans in Season Opener

BALTIMORE, MD – The York College women's basketball squad dropped a hard-fought 67-62 non-conference season opener at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday night. The Blue Jays avenged last year's 66-62 Spartan victory in the 2010-11 tip off in York. Hopkins improves to 1-0 while the Spartans are 0-1.

The campaign could not have gotten off to a better start as York exploded out to a quick 10-2 lead. Senior April Sparkman made her return to the Green and White lineup with a three just 59 seconds into the game. The Blue Jays chipped away at the Spartan advantage until they trimmed the lead to two at 17-15. York pushed the lead back up to seven thanks to two Kristen Haley free throws and a Jess Selby triple.

The Blue Jays fought back and the Spartans stopped making shots with six minutes left in the first half as Hopkins hit the Green and White with a 12-2 run to close out the half. That turned a 26-19 Spartan lead into a 31-28 halftime deficit.

The Spartans got good looks from the floor in the first half but struggled to convert those chances as they shot just 29.4% (10-for-34) in the opening 20 minutes. Conversely, the Blue Jays shot 45.8% from the floor while they made 12 first-half trips to the charity stripe while York only attempted four free throws.

York came out of the break and asserted control of the contest. The Green and White fashioned a 18-6 run that covered the first seven minutes of the second half. That spurt was capped by a pair of Brittany Hicks free throws at the 12:48 mark as the Spartan lead stood at 46-37.

Hopkins answered the Spartan run with a game-changing 13-0 run fueled by four points from Alex Vassila and three from Chantel Mattiola. The Spartans tied the game at 53 with a Hicks three point play but York never was really able to recover from the Blue Jay spurt.

The Spartans did manage to tie the game at 62 on an Aja Wallpher free throw with 1:48 remaining, but York would not score again. Fatu Conteh split a pair of free throws with 1:42 left as the Blue Jays took a 63-62 lead. After a Spartan turnover gave the ball back to Hopkins, the Blue Jays got a pair of offensive rebound after misses before Haley Bush was fouled and sunk both free throws with 48 seconds left. Hopkins forced another turnover with 45 second remaining and Stephanie Fong drilled both free throws to close out the scoring. York had two cracks from three over the final 23 seconds but they couldn't find the mark as they start the season 0-1 for the first time since the 2008-09 season. That was the season York lost to Messiah in the opener before running off a school-record 25 wins.

The Blue Jays were very balanced in the win as Conteh led four players in double figures. Conteh tallied 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting including a 4-for-5 performance from the line. Vassila added 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Vassila was 4-for-12 from the field and 2-for-4 from the stripe. Sarah Higbee and Mattiola each added 10 points for the Blue Jays. Fong handed out five assists to go along with six points and two rebounds.

Sparkman paced York as the senior tallied a game-high 18 points while she also had six rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot. Hicks added 15 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Haley was the third Spartan in double figures with 13 points while she collected a team-high eight rebounds. Haley also had three assists, two blocked shots, and two steals. Wallpher played an all-around game with nine points, a game-high eight assists, and seven rebounds.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 35.5% from the floor including 31.6% (6-for-19) from three. York made 12-of-18 (66.7%) from the free throw line.

Hopkins shot 42.9% from the floor while they went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. The Blue Jays were an efficient 17-for-24 from the stripe in the win.

The Spartans committed 18 turnovers in the loss and the Blue Jays turned that into 26 points including 17 in the fateful second half.

The Green and White returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Franklin & Marshall College to square off against the Diplomats in the opening round of the Diplomats' Tip Off Tournament. The game is scheduled for a 4:00 pm start.