ATLANTA, GA – York College senior Brittany Hicks (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) hit a driving left-handed lay up with six seconds left in regulation to lift the #19 Spartans to a dramatic 54-53 win over #22 Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Sunday afternoon in the opening round of the Country Inns and Suites Holiday Classic hosted by Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.
The Spartans improve to 9-0 overall while the talented Pointers fall to 6-3.
Hicks heroics capped a frenzied second half that saw the teams have three ties and six lead changes. The Spartans held a 50-47 lead after a Hicks lay up with 3:28 remaining in the game. The Pointers got a Jenna Pitt jumper and a pair of Alyssa Olp free throws with 1:46 left in regulation to take a 52-51 lead. York got an offensive rebound and put back from junior Jess Selby (Upper Marlboro, Md./Calverton) to retake a one-point lead. The Pointers responded on their next possession as Myranda Tyler hit a lay up with 1:10 left in regulation.
York turned the ball over 14 seconds later but the Pointers couldn't build their lead as they committed a turnover and the Spartans called timeout with 28 seconds left in regulation. York's Aja Wallpher (Ellicott City, Md./Seton Keough) missed a jumper on the baseline, got an offensive rebound and then had her shot blocked. Hicks collected the offensive rebound on the baseline, dribbled out towards the wing and then drove to the lane where she hit the running left-handed shot to put the Spartans up for good. After a timeout, the Pointers turned the ball over at mid-court, as they couldn't get a shot off as time expired.
The first half was low scoring as both teams showed Christmas break rust. The Spartans led 13-8 midway through the opening 20 minutes. The Pointers went on a 9-3 spurt to take a 17-16 lead with 6:18 left in the half. York answered by scoring 10 of the final 13 points of the half to take a 26-19 lead to the intermission.
York opened the second half with a Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation) triple, growing their lead to a game-high 10 at 29-19 a mere 46 seconds into the half. UWSP answered with a sustained 17-4 run to take a 36-33 lead. The Pointers grew their lead to as many as five before the Spartans battled back to tie the game at 42, setting up an action packed final eight minutes of the game. The last eight minutes featured three ties and four lead changes before Hicks' shot won the game for York.
Freshman Sam Hruz (White Marsh, Md./Mercy) came up big for the Green and White as she poured in a career-high 11 points to lead the Spartans. Hruz added two blocks and two rebounds as she did her damage in just 17 minutes of action. Hicks finished the game with a team-high 14 points and 12 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the year. Haley was the third Spartan in double figures with 10 points. Selby added seven points, five rebounds, and three rebounds for the Green and White.
Tyler led the Pointers with her double-double of 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Pitt and Olp each tallied 13 points while Kaitlyn Jacobs notched 10 points and seven boards.
Spartan head coach Betsy Witman was pleased with the performance of her squad.
"My veterans stayed poised at the end and we found a way to win," said Witman. "Our experience in big games over the years showed through tonight. I am so proud of this team and I am hoping this win will just be the beginning of many more good things this season."
The Spartans finished the game shooting just 34.4% from the field but they took advantage of taking 19 more shots than the Pointers in the game. York forced 24 turnovers and turned those UWSP miscues into 22 points. It is the sixth time this year that York forced an opponent to 20 or more turnovers.
The Spartans went 4-for-17 (23.5%) from three and just 6-for-11 (54.5%) from the stripe. The Pointers shot 42.2% from the floor including 3-for-12 from three. It is the first time this season the Spartans have allowed an opponent to shoot more than 37.5% from the field this season. UWSP went 12-for-20 from the charity stripe.
The tall Pointers handled the Spartans on the glass as they held a 42-33 advantage in rebounding. It was the first time the Spartans have gotten outrebounded in a game this year.
The Spartans return to action on Monday evening when they face tournament host Oglethorpe in the second round of the round robin tournament. Tip time in Atlanta is set for 6:00 pm.