March 13, 2009

Courtesy of Scranton

ROCHESTER, N.Y.--The University of Scranton has got this `winning ugly' thing down pat.

The beauty of it, however, is that the 15th-ranked Lady Royals are now one win away from their ninth Final Four appearances, thanks to their 50-46 victory over 10th-ranked York College of Pennsylvania in an NCAA sectional semifinal game played at the Louis Alexander Palestra on the campus of the University of Rochester Friday evening.

"This team has proven that it can win ugly," said veteran Lady Royal head coach Mike Strong.  "We definitely knew it was coming down to the wire.  We're a young team, but we kept our composure."

Scranton held the high-scoring Spartans to 19 second-half points on 7 of 25 shooting from the field (28.0 percent) to erase a two-point halftime deficit and move into Saturday's sectional final (Elite Eight) against the winner of The College of New Jersey and Rochester.   For the game, York College shot only 37.5 percent from the field (18 of 48) and was guilty of 25 turnovers, including 13 in the second half.

Sophomore guard Megan Kopecki (Millington, N.J./Watchung Hills Regional) led all scorers with 16 points, senior center Molly Klusek (Philadelphia, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) and senior forward Kelly Tratthen (Olyphant, Pa./Lakeland) combined for 12 points and 12 rebounds, and junior guard Ryan Mooney (Spring City, Pa./Pius X) finished with six points and three assists for Scranton, which won its 19th straight game to improve to 26-4.

Sophomore guard April Sparkman (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville) scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half, senior guard Amanda Andrews (Fallston, Md./Fallston) added 11 points, and senior forward Chanel Perez (Biglerville, Pa./Gettysburg) contributed 10 points and nine rebounds for York, which ended its 2008-2009 season with a 27-3 record.

The Lady Royals overcame an 18-for-49 shooting effort from the field (36.7 percent) by getting the Spartans, who enter the game averaging 77 points, into a half-court game.  York, making its first appearances in the NCAA tournament field, went nearly seven minutes without a field goal midway through the second half, which allowed Scranton to wipe away a 3-point lead and build up two five-point lead, the last of which came on a jump shot by Mooney with 6:21 left.

The Spartans did manage to cut Scranton's lead down to two on three occasions, but each time the Lady Royals came up with key plays.  Sophomore forward Courtney Roselle (Cedar Grove, N.J./Mount St. Dominic Academy) made two free throws with 1:33 left after Andrews hit a jump shot at the free throw line with 1:49 remaining to make it 44-42.

Kopecki made two more free throws with 42 seconds remaining after senior guard Kelli Ward (Nottingham, Pa./Oxford), the 2009 Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Year, scored down low to narrow the gap to 46-44 with 1:09 remaining.  Ward, who finished with six points on just 2 of 10 shooting from the field to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds, got in the lane again and converted a lay-up with 33 seconds remaining to make it 48-46.

Kopecki was then called for a traveling violation trying to split a double team against full-court pressure, giving York a chance to tie or take the lead.  The Spartans then committed their 25th turnover of the game when Perez was called for a traveling violation driving to drive to the basket.  The Lady Royals then got the ball in-bounds and avoided a foul by getting the ball up-court quickly.  Tratthen then set the final score with an uncontested lay-up with one second remaining.

Sparkman scored eight points during a seven-minute span early in the first-half as York erased an early 3-0 deficit to take an 14-5 lead.  Kopecki finished with seven points and Klusek added six despite being saddled with three fouls as the Lady Royals fought back to cut the Spartans' lead to two, 27-25, by intermission.

York out-rebounded Scranton, 41-27, but was uncharacteristically only 2 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc and 8 of 15 from the free throw line.  The Spartans entered the game fourth in field goal percentage (.464) and 20th in 3-point field goal percentage (.364) in the latest NCAA Division III rankings.

Scranton moves on to the Elite Eight for the 15th time in school history.

Newspaper Box Score

April Sparkman 7-14 0-2 14; Amanda Andrews 3-7 3-4 11; Chanel Perez 5-8 0-1 10; Keli Ward 2-10 2-2 6; Jaimie Sapp 1-6 1-2 3; Caitlin Byrne 0-1 1-2 1; Donna Figenshu 0-0 1-2 1; Amy Fry 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-48 8-15 46.

Megan Kopecki 6-13 3-5 16; Molly Klusek 3-7 0-0 6; Kelly Tratthen 2-4 2-4 6;  Ryan Mooney 2-7 1-2 6; Jennifer King 2-7 0-2 5; Courtney Roselle 0-2 3-4 3; Emily Rainey 1-1 0-0 3; Colleen McLane 1-4 0-0 3; Sarah Gage 1-4 0-0 2; Brittany Bontemps 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-49 9-17 50.

York College (PA).............   27   19  -   46
Scranton......................   25   25  -   50

3-point goals--York College (PA) 2-10 (Amanda Andrews 2-5; Chanel Perez 0-1; Keli Ward 0-2; April Sparkman 0-2), Scranton 5-13 (Emily Rainey 1-1; Ryan Mooney 1-3; Jennifer King 1-3; Colleen McLane 1-3; Megan Kopecki 1-3). Fouled out--York College (PA)-None, Scranton-None. Rebounds--York College (PA) 41 (Keli Ward 12), Scranton 27 (Molly Klusek 7). Assists--York College (PA) 9 (Keli Ward 4), Scranton 13 (Megan Kopecki 4). Total fouls--York College (PA) 12, Scranton 15. Technical fouls--York College (PA)-None,
Scranton-None. A-525.