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YORK, PA – The York College women's basketball team opened their highly anticipated 2013-14 season with a 58-41 victory over Pitt-Bradford in the opening round of the Seventh Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in York.
The Spartans advance to the tournament championship game for the sixth straight time. They will take on Bridgewater College, 77-64 winners over Waynesburg, in the tournament championship game at 3:00 pm Saturday.
The Green and White got off to a slow start in the contest as the game was tied at four over five minutes into the game. The two teams went back and forth until the Spartans went on an 11-2 run to take a 21-10 lead. The spurt was kick started by a Karli McFatridge (York, Pa./York Catholic) triple and capped with a McFatridge layup. The sophomore transfer was responsible for seven of the Spartans' 11 points on the run.
The Panthers were undeterred as they trimmed the York lead to five thanks to a 9-3 run of their own. York scored the next six points to push to a 30-19 lead but Pitt-Bradford scored seven of the seven of the final nine points of the half as York took a 32-26 lead to the break.
The Spartans cranked up the defense in the second half as they opened the stanza on a prolonged 13-2 run that covered the opening 10:07 of the second half. The Panthers didn't record their first second-half field goal until Allison Osborne hit a jumper with 8:44 left in the game.
Pitt-Bradford cut the Spartan lead to 11 twice inside the last six minutes but York answered with buckets from Aja Wallpher (Ellicott City, Md./Seton Keough), Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation), and Brittany Hicks (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) to push the lead to 17 at 56-39 with 1:51 left.
The Spartans would exchange a pair of free throws with the Panthers to provide for the final 58-41 score.
Haley led the balanced Spartan scoring effort with 12 points while she also had six rebounds, three blocked shots, a steal and an assist in 28 minutes. Haley was 6-for-11 from the floor in the victory. Wallpher added 11 points, seven assists, six steals, and four rebounds in her 27 minutes of action. McFatridge made her Spartan debut a highly successful one as she notched 10 first half points on 4-of-5 shooting including a three and a free throw. Hicks led the Spartans on the glass with 10 caroms while the preseason All-American also had nine points and three steals.
Osborne, a Spring Grove High School graduate, led the Panthers with 11 points and eight rebounds. Abby Brate, an Eastern York High School grad, added seven points and three assists in her return to her home county.
The Spartans struggled to shoot the ball in their opener. York shot just 36.4% (24-for-66) from the floor while they were an ice cold 1-for-15 (6.7%) from three. The Green and White also struggled uncharacteristically from the free throw line where they went 9-for-23 (39.1%).
Pitt-Bradford didn't fare much better from the floor as York held them to 27.5% shooting in the game including just 4-for-24 in the decisive second half. The Panthers scored just 15 points in the second half. The Panthers were 2-for-11 from three while they went 11-for-21 from the charity stripe in the loss.
York dominated on the glass as the Spartans outrebounded the Panthers 55-39 in the game including 22-9 on the offensive glass. York also forced 24 turnovers, which they turned into 23 points. The Green and White outscored their guests 42-12 in points in the paint and 18-0 in fast break points.
The Spartans will have a challenge with Bridgewater on Saturday. The Eagles received double-doubles from Holley Morgan (20 points and 15 rebounds) and Oshene Kelly (10 points and 13 rebounds) while point guard Jessi Strom tallied a game-high 21 points on a very efficient 7-for-11 from the floor including 5-of-7 from three and 2-for-3 from the line. The Eagles won the game despite committing 32 turnovers in the game.
Pitt-Bradford will square off against Waynesburg in the consolation game at 1:00 pm with the championship game tipping off at 3:00 pm.