YORK, PA – An amazing era in York College women's basketball came to an end on Saturday night in York as the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets defeated the Spartans 67-52 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Yellow Jackets move on to the Sweet 16 next weekend, as they are now 22-6 overall. The Spartans' fantastic campaign comes to a close with a mark of 26-3 overall.
Baldwin Wallace locked the Spartans down defensively like few teams have been able to do all year. The first half was tight as neither team could gain any significant momentum. The Yellow Jackets pulled out to a five-point lead on an Alissa Munro triple midway through the half. BW eventually pushed the lead to six on a pair of Shari Mangas free throws at the 5:34 mark.
Senior Brittany Hicks (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) single-handedly kept the Green and White game in the first half. Hicks went on a personal 7-0 spurt to give York a short-lived 24-23 lead with 3:39 remaining in the half. The teams would go back and forth over the final 2:25 of the half as York edged out to a 34-32 lead at the break.
Hicks was nothing short of fantastic in the opening 20 minutes of play as she had 25 points and five rebounds.
While Hicks was a one-woman show, the Yellow Jackets depth set the stage for what was going to happen in the second half. Baldwin Wallace played 13 players in the first half with nine of those players playing six minutes or more in the half. Conversely, York's five starters combined to play 80 of the 100 minutes in the half.
The Yellow Jackets wasted little time in climbing back in front as they scored 10 of the first 12 points of the half to take a 42-36 lead just over four minutes into the second half.
The Green and White cut the Yellow Jacket lead to three on four different occasions with the last one coming on a Kailee Knight (Crofton, Md./South River) lay up with 8:57 showing on the clock. That's when BW put together a clinching 11-3 run over the next five minutes as the Spartans faced a 61-50 with 4:24 left in the game.
York would cut the lead to nine with 3:49 left on a Kristen Haley (Silver Spring, Md./Georgetown Visitation) lay up with 3:49 remaining. That's as close as York would get as their weary legs led to short shots and, for the first time this year, the inability to claw their way out of danger in a big situation.
The Yellow Jackets would close out the game and earn their fifth berth in the Sweet 16 under long time head coach Cheri Harrer's guidance.
Mangas led three Yellow Jackets in double figures as she tallied 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting including 1-for-4 from three and 6-for-8 from the stripe. She added three rebounds in her 28 minutes of play. Munro added13 points including a trio treys while Audrey Smolik chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists. Sam Hamar led BW on the glass as she had nine boards to go along with nine points.
The Yellow Jackets had nine players play at least 12 minutes in the game while eight players reached the scoring column.
Hicks finished her Spartan tenure with one of the best games of her career. She poured in 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for her school-record 42nd double-double. She was 8-for-19 from the floor, 1-for-2 from three and 13-for-17 from the free throw line. The 13 made free throws tied her career high while the 30 points was just two short of her career high. Haley added 13 points and six rebounds in her final time putting on the Green and White. Sophomore Julianne Lambert (Hockessin, Del./Padua Academy) played great for York as she came off the bench to record six points, five assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
York had just five players reach the scoring column as Hicks and Haley scored 43 of York's 52 points. The 52 points were the lowest offensive output for the Spartans this year.
The loss ends the incredible career of Hicks, Haley, Kelsey Murphy (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) and Aja Wallpher (Ellicott City, Md./Seton Keough). They leave York College with the greatest four-year record in program history as they combined to go 86-29. Each of the four players hold at least two career records for the Spartans as they won two Capital Athletic Conference tournament titles, a regular season CAC crown, and made three NCAA Tournament appearances. The foursome went 3-3 in their three NCAA Tournament including a run to the Sweet 16 as sophomores.
Spartan head coach Betsy Witman was disappointed but knows it was a great season for her squad.
"Its very disappointing to end the season like this but Baldwin Wallace played better than we did tonight. We knew going into the game it was going to be very tough and it was. I am so proud of what this group has accomplished. While this hurts right now, when we look back we will have nothing but great memories of what we were able to accomplish."
Baldwin Wallace will now face an undefeated FDU-Florham squad in the Sweet 16 at a site to be determined by the NCAA on Monday.
Brittany Hicks photo courtesy of Zack Teator