Defense Powers Spartans to Coaches vs. Cancer Championship

Defense Powers Spartans to Coaches vs. Cancer Championship

YORK, PA – The nationally ranked York College women's basketball squad rode a great defensive effort to capture the title of the Sixth Coaches vs. Cancer Classic tournament on Sunday afternoon in York. The Spartans defeated a hot College of New Jersey squad 56-48 at the Grumbacher Center to earn the title.

The Spartans improve to 10-0 overall while the Lions had their seven-game win streak snapped as they fall to 8-3. York is ranked 11th in the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll and 12th in the Poll.

The opening half featured two teams playing outstanding defense. The Lions took an early 7-2 lead before the Spartans went on a 15-1 run fueled by two three pointers from senior Loreta Tonuzi (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) and a triple from Kelsey Murphy (Olney, Md./Good Counsel). The Lions trimmed the Spartan lead to 17-14 courtesy of a quick 6-2 spurt, however, York responded with an Aja Wallpher (Ellicott City, Md./Seton Keough) jumper and another Murphy three to wrestle back momentum.

The Spartans got a third Murphy three and a quick Wallpher steal and bucket to take a 31-19 lead just prior to the half. The Lions got a free throw with three seconds left in the half as the Spartans took the 11-point lead to the break.

York came out of the break and slowly built on their halftime lead. The Lions got to within 10 on an Angelica Esposito jumper with 12:21 left in the game. The Spartans responded with 15-6 run as the York lead grew to 54-35 with 7:02 left in the game. That 19-point margin proved to be the high water mark for the York lead in the game.

The Lions made the game closer than it appeared courtesy of a 9-0 run against the Spartan reserves at the end of the game.

York was powered by All-Tournament team members Wallpher and Brittany Hicks (Dover, Pa./York Catholic). Wallpher was named the tournament MVP as she tallied 11 points, nine assists, five steals, three rebounds, and one blocked shot in 37 minutes of play. Wallpher was 4-for-5 from the floor and 3-for-4 from the line. Hicks notched her seventh double-double of the year with a pair of game-highs as she had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Hicks was a very efficient 6-for-8 from the floor including 1-of-2 from three while she nailed all five of her free throws in the win.

Murphy and Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation) each chipped in with nine points while Haley also had seven rebounds.

Candace Vigo was named to the All-Tournament team for the Lions as she tossed in a team-high 15 points in the championship game loss. Vigo also had four rebounds and two assists in her 27 minutes of work. Kelly Coughlin added nine points and three rebounds to the Lion offense.

York shot 41.3% from the floor and a very efficient 7-of-16 (43.8%) from three. The seven threes are a huge bounce back from Saturday night's 1-for-9 effort from beyond the arc against Wheaton. York finished the game 11-for-17 (64.7%) from the stripe.

The Green and White held TCNJ to 34% shooting from the field while the Lions went just 3-for-19 from three including 0-for-11 from distance in the second half.

The Spartans continue their season-high seven game home stand with a non-conference contest against Elizabethtown on Thursday evening. Tip time at Wolf Gymnasium is set for 6:00 pm at Wolf Gymnasium.

Championship photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh (

Audio Highlights courtesy of Darrell Henry - The Voice of the Spartans