CAC CHAMPS! Spartan Seniors Pick Up Title Number Two

YORK, PA – The York College women's basketball team captured the 2014 Capital Athletic Conference tournament championship on Saturday as they bested the Christopher Newport Captains 66-53 in the title game at Wolf Gymnasium.

The nationally ranked Spartans improve to 25-2 overall while the Captains fall to 22-5 with the loss.

The tournament championship is the second for the Spartans with the senior class picking up both titles. The senior class of Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation), Brittany Hicks (Dover, Pa./York Catholic), Kelsey Murphy (Olney, Md./Good Counsel), and Aja Wallpher (Ellicott City, Md./Seton Keough) captured the 2011 conference title as freshman and did the trick again this year in their final campaign in the Green and White. The win is the 85th as a class, a school record.

The game was tight and low scoring from the start which is surprising considering the Captains average 75.5 points per game while the Spartans entered the game averaging 71.3 points per contest.

The first four minutes of the game featured a mere ten combined points as York held a 6-4 lead. Junior Jess Selby (Upper Marlboro, Md./Calverton School) hit a jumper and then converted a three as the Spartans pushed out to an 11-6 lead. York pushed the run to 9-3 as the lead grew to 15-7. The Captains quickly cut the Spartan lead to three thanks to three pointers from Jordan Miller and Allison Rowe. The Captains eventually cut the Spartan lead to just one on a Camry Green bucket with 1:02 left in the half. Hicks pushed the York lead to three at the break as she hit a driving lay up with five seconds left in the half to give York a 25-22 edge.

The Spartans were fortunate to lead in the first half as the Captains missed a number of great looks close to the basket while they also struggled from the free throw line going 1-for-7 from the stripe in the opening 20 minutes of play.

The Captains came out of the break and hit York on the interior as Green scored twice in the opening 1:02 of the half. York quickly responded to retake the lead only to have Nicole Mitchell can a three at the 16:29 mark, tying the game at 29.

Hicks wasted no time in answering Mitchell as the Spartans' All-American hit a three from the top of the key followed by a Selby three as the Spartan lead quickly grew to six. The Green and White advantage would vacillate between four and eight points over the next five-minute before the Captains trimmed the advantage to three at 40-37 with 9:53 remaining.

The York lead would bounce between three and five points before the Spartans put together a championship clinching 12-0 run that turned a three point lead into a 15-point margin. The dagger came off the right hand of Murphy as the Spartans' all-time leading three-point shooter drilled in a triple from the left wing to put an exclamation point on the Spartan spurt.

The Captains cut the York lead to nine with 2:15 left but that would be as close as they would get as York got a Haley three point play to quickly push the lead back to double figures. The Spartans went 5-for-7 from the line in the final two minutes, securing the win in the school's fifth championship game appearance.

Hicks again played like the best player in the CAC as she poured in a game-high 23 points while she also grabbed nine rebounds in narrowly missing her 41st career double-double. Haley added 11 points, eight rebounds, and blocked shot in just 22 minutes as she battled foul trouble all night long but still played a key role in the win. Selby stepped up big as she tossed in 13 points and grabbed five rebounds in her 31 minutes of play. Murphy was held to five points but had one of her best games of the year on the glass with six boards, four assists, two blocked shots and two steals. Wallpher added eight points, three rebounds, three assists, one block and two steals.

Green led the Captains with 16 points and 13 rebounds in her 29 minutes of play. Mitchell was the other Captain in double figures as she tallied 12 points and six rebounds before fouling out late in the game.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 41.7% from the floor and 28.6% from three. York was solid at the stripe, making 22-of-30 for a 73.3% success rate.

CNU shot a dismal 29.9% from the floor and 25% (5-for-20) from three. The Captains went just 8-of-20 from the stripe, a whooping 27% below their season average. The Captains are the 13th team the Spartans have held under 30% from the floor in a game.

York won the battle on the boards as they outrebounded CNU 46-39. The Captains forced 18 York turnovers, which they converted into 20 points.

The Spartans won the regular season championship and the tournament after being selected to finish fourth in the preseason coaches' poll. The Captains were the league favorite and showed why after a strong regular season performance. The win for the Spartan senior class is now 85-28 in their four-year careers with two conference championships.

The Spartans will now advance to their fourth NCAA Tournament in school history and their third in the last four years. The tournament announcement is slated to come down from the NCAA on Monday afternoon. Please check back with www.ycpspartans.com for full tournament information.

Photo courtesy of Joe Rodgers