FREDERICKSBURG, VA – The York College women's basketball suffered a familiar fate as they fell to the University of Mary Washington Eagles 55-49 in the semifinals of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament on Thursday night in Fredericksburg, VA.
The Spartan loss to the Eagles is their 12th straight setback against their foe from Fredericksburg.
The Eagles, who are likely NCAA tournament bound no matter their result in the CAC Championship game at Marymount Saturday, improve to 20-6 overall. The Spartans likely conclude their solid season with a mark of 20-7.
The Spartans were never able to overcome a nightmarish first half that saw them score a mere 12 points on 15% shooting from the floor. The 12 points were their lowest first half output of the season.
The first half saw the hosts sprint out of the gate, barraging the Spartan defense with a variety of jump shots early. The Eagles hit the Spartans with a 12-2 start to the contest as York was poised to get blown out of Anderson Arena only six minutes into the game.
Thankfully for York, the Eagles then went cold from the field, allowing the equally frigid Spartan offense to stay in the game. The Eagles scored just two points over the next 11:33 as York cut their deficit to 14-9 with 2:53 left in the half. The Eagles then scored six straight before junior point guard Aja Wallpher (Ellicott City, Md./Seton Keough) hit a three pointer at the horn drawing York to eight at 20-12 at the break.
The Spartans struggled in the opening 20 minutes as they went just 4-for-26 from the floor and 1-for-5 from three. The Green and White also went just 3-for-6 from the charity stripe. The Eagles weren't much better as they went 9-for-23 (39%) from the field and 2-for-6 from the line. Take away the hosts' 6-for-9 start and Mary Washington went 3-for-14 over the final 14:20 of the opening half.
The second half didn't get off to a much better start as the Eagles used the opening nine minutes of the stanza to push the lead to 13 on an Amanda Witmer triple with 11:58 left in the game.
That's when the Spartans climbed back into the game. The Green and White went on a 15-4 run that cut the Eagle lead to 36-34 with 6:34 remaining in the game. York eventually cut the lead to one on a Loreta Tonuzi lay up with 3:18 left. That would be as close as York would get as Aubrey Howland pushed the lead back to four with a three-point play.
Junior Brittany Hicks (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) hit a pair of free throws at the 1:15 mark, bringing York back to within two at 48-46 but Aby Diop answered with a huge lay up, pushing it back to four. After the Eagles got a stop, Carol Dye was fould and missed the front end of the one-and-one with 44 seconds left. Hicks corralled the rebound and was promptly fouled. She split the pair and Dye notched the rebound and was again fouled. That began the Eagle parade to the free throw line where they converted five of their final six attempts over the last 40 seconds to salt away the win.
Point guard Sam Partonen led the Eagles as she tallied 15 points, four rebounds, and two assists in 36 minutes of work. Dye notched a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the senior center also notched three blocked shots. Howland was the third Eagle in double figures with 14 points while she also collected seven boards.
Hicks paced the Spartans as she matched Partonen with a game-high 15 points. Hicks narrowly missed her 16th double-double of the year with a team-high nine rebounds. Junior Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation) added 11 points and seven rebounds while Wallpher added 11 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two blocked shots as she did not come off the court for York.
The Spartans shot the ball much better in the second half as they converted 14-of-31 (45.2%) but their overall shooting percentage just nudged above 31% for the game. York went a season-worst 1-for-10 from three. It is the third time this season that York has made only one triple in a game and the Spartans were 1-2 in those contests. York went 12-for-17 (70.6%) from the stripe in the game including 9-for-11 in the second half.
Mary Washington shot 36.4% for the game including an uncharacteristic 2-for-17 from three. The Eagles were just good enough at the free throw line to hold off the Spartans as UMW converted 13-of-19 at the stripe.
The Eagles edged York on the glass 41-39 while both teams had 12 turnovers in a very statistically even game.
The Spartans must now wait until Monday to see if their slim chances of getting into the NCAA Tournament becomes reality. The Green and White currently sits seventh in the regional rankings and traditionally the top six teams in the region get selected into the tournament. The NCAA announces the tournament field on Monday morning.
York must say goodbye to seniors Loreta Tonuzi (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) and guard Megan Lanigan (Staten Island, N.Y./Moore Catholic) who concluded their careers with the loss.
Team huddle photo courtesy of Rebecaa Coleman - Athletic Communications Assistant