HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Kristen Haley poured in a career-high 25 points and Aja Wallpher dished out 11 assists as the York College women's basketball team advanced to the second round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Tournament courtesy of an 86-66 triumph over St. Vincent. The Spartans, 23-5, move on to face Juniata, while the Bearcats close out their campaign with a 22-7 record.
"I thought we played one of our better games of the season," Spartan head coach Betsy Witman said. "We handled their pressure well. We defended well and made good adjustments throughout the game."
Haley proved consistently tough throughout the contest. Her 25, which bests her previous career-high of 23, came courtesy of an 8-for-14 performance from the floor and an impressive 9-for-10 showing from the free throw line. The sophomore also pulled down seven caroms for York in the opening-round triumph.
"They had no answer for Haley," Witman said, speaking of Haley's outstanding performance. "We did a good job of getting her the ball in scoring position."
Wallpher captured her second double-double of the 2012 campaign as she tallied 13 points in addition to her 11 dimes. She totaled 39 minutes for York and took tremendous care of the ball amidst St. Vincent pressure, which stretched full-court during a portion of the first half, only committing one turnover. The nation's leader in assists now bumps her season average to 7.2 helpers per contest.
"Wallpher had one of her best floor games of the season," Witman continued. "Handled their pressure . . . kept the game under control. Just played really composed."
After a tight back-and-forth first half, which the Spartans led 43-38 at the break, the Green and White steadily opened up their lead during the second 20 minutes. After shooting 55.6% in the first frame, the Spartans followed that effort with a 51.9% showing in the second while holding St. Vincent to just 26.5% from the floor over the latter 20.
York started the second half on an 8-2 run through the first 4:23 led by three points from Brittany Hicks, a triple from Brittany Percich, and a Wallpher layup. That effort allotted the Green and White a 51-40 advantage, as the Spartans would not allow their lead to dip below double-digits for the remainder of the game.
The margin reached 15 just 3:03 later by way of a Haley traditional three-point play, leading 57-42. York held their lead between 12 and 18 for the next 10:33 as they never allowed St. Vincent to go on an extended run.
With 2:01 remaining, it was Haley who fittingly pushed lead to a 20 at 82-62 on her final bucket of the contest. York's margin would max out at 24 courtesy of layups from April Sparkman and Taylor Santor, before the game finished with an 86-66 Spartan win.
"It was a team effort," Witman said of the victory. "April had a great game. [Brittany Percich] came off the bench and was very solid. [Kelsey Murphy] didn't take a lot of shots but when she did they went in."
Sparkman proved a huge factor for the Green and White owning their 43-38 halftime lead. With York facing tremendous Bearcat pressure, Sparkman knocked down a number of big shots. Over the first 20 minutes, the senior tallied 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting including an impressive 4-for-8 from three.
Aside from Haley and Wallpher, Sparkman finished with 18 points while Hicks totaled 17 points and seven rebounds. Murphy knocked down eight for the Green and White while Percich, with her effort and consistent play, provided an excellent presence off the bench.
For the Bearcats, Devin McGrath led all scorers with 31, as she went 13-for-21 from the floor. McGrath also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds. Brittany Sedlock had also registered a double-double with 19 points and 11 boards.
The Spartans return to action on Saturday in a 7:30 pm second-round tilt against the winner of host Juniata who topped Castleton St. 84-57 in their first-round contest.
PHOTO: Aja Wallpher put together a stellar 13-point, 11 assist, one turnover effort against St. Vincent in York's NCAA opening-round triumph. Courtesy of Brent Duffy - York College (Pa.) Athletic Communications Intern.