AMHERST, Mass. – Widener’s four seniors all stepped up in a big way and left little doubt in the outcome, cruising to a 67-52 victory against Messiah in the sectional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
Vanessa Hejnas scored 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting. Kate Dellinger had 13 points and 12 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season, Lil Carney had 12 points and eight rebounds and Francesca Lee had nine points and six rebounds.
Widener exploded on a 12-5 run that opened a 44-35 lead with 12:24 left. Hejnas scored seven points in that span and ended things via two free throws.
Messiah tried to remain in the contest, getting four consecutive points that included two free throws from Chelsea Danel to close to 44-39 with 11:27 left.
A 10-0 spurt gave Widener a 54-39 lead with 8:54 remaining. Dellinger and sophomore Kristina Reiter hit back-to-back 3-pointers, Carney drilled two free throws and junior Jennifer Egee had a huge fast-break layup.
The Pride outscored the Falcons 35-24 in the second half by allowing their counterparts to shoot only 31 percent (9 of 29) from the floor. Hejnas scored 11 points in the half, Carney had six points and five rebounds and Dellinger recorded five points and eight rebounds.
The Pride ended the game allowing just 30 percent shooting (16 of 53) and owned a 47-36 rebounding edge.
Messiah’s Dori Gyori had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Bottled up by Widener’s post players, she was just 1 of 10 from the floor and 9-for-11 from the line with no free throw attempts in the second half.
Kira Maier scored 12 points and Taylor Miller added nine from the first half for Messiah, which only had six different players score in the second half.
The first half was much like the entire contest as it was dominated in almost every facet by Widener, but it could only muster a 32-28 halftime cushion after leading by as many as 12. Dellinger scored eight points and Carney added six for the Pride, who limited the Falcons to a mere 29 percent shooting (7 of 24) from the floor.
Widener went on an 11-4 run to open a 30-19 lead with 3:21 left in the half thanks to four points from Dellinger, who ended it on a steal and layup. Messiah poured in the next eight points to move to 30-28 with 1:36 remaining as Gyori hit four free throws.
Gyori scored nine points in the half, all from the charity stripe.