SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – January 3, 2008 –Lucy Sprung scored a career-high 21 points and pulled down a team-high 9 rebounds to lead her Wesleyan University women’s basketball team to a 70-55 non-conference victory over Springfield College this afternoon at James Naismith Court at Springfield’s Blake Arena in game #1 of the Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic.
With the win, Wesleyan raised its record to 8-2, while Springfield fell to 4-5. This is the 13th annual Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic on the women’s side, while it is the 21st annual on the men’s side. Game #2 this afternoon pits the Bates women versus William Paterson at 3 pm. Later today, it will be the Roger Williams men taking on Montclair State at 5:30 pm, followed by the Springfield men versus Drew at 7:30 pm.
In 35 minutes of action, Sprung, a senior forward from Wilmington, Vt., not only had 21 points and 9 rebounds, but also 3 steals and 1 assist. She was 8-of-16 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. Three others scored in double figures for the Cardinals. They included junior forward Meredith Lowe (Philadelphia, Pa.) with a career-high 19 points, senior guard Nikki Maletta (Durham, Conn.) with 12, and senior forward Stephanie Savas (Brockton, Mass.) with 10. Lowe also had 7 rebounds, and shot 8-of-10 from the field. Maletta added 6 assists.
For the Pride, senior guard Christine Cotter (Stoughton, Mass.) led with 11 points, followed by senior guard Tara McCarthy (Bristol, R.I.) with 10. Three others scored 8 points. They included junior forward Corey Finch (Hanover, Pa.), junior center Lauren O’Connor (Valhalla, N.Y.), and junior center Liz Brosseau (Franklin, Mass.). O’Connor had a game-high 10 rebounds, followed by Finch and freshman guard Rachelle Walker (Lee, Mass.) with 7 each.
The game was very much a see-saw affair in the first half when the score was tied three times and there were six lead changes. Maletta opened the game with a three-pointer for the Cardinals 10 seconds in. Just 17 seconds later, McCarthy made a rare 4-point play, making a three and adding a free throw for SC. But then Maletta countered with another three, giving Wesleyan a 6-4 edge. The Cardinals hit seven of their first nine shots and were able to extend their lead to 16-8 on a lay-up by Lowe with 15:17 left in the first half.
But this is when Springfield had its best run of the game. Over the next nine minutes, the Pride outscored Wesleyan, 17-6. When McCarthy made two free throws with 5:52 left, Springfield had its largest lead of the game (three points) at 25-22.
Wesleyan countered with an 8-0 run over the next 2:45, and led 30-25 with 3:07 left on two free throws by Sprung. A lay-up by Sprung with 3:50 left actually put Wesleyan into the lead for good at 26-25. A lay-up by freshman guard Erin Gold (New Hope, Pa.) with 25 seconds left gave Wesleyan a 34-31 lead at the half. Sprung scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the first stanza.
The beginning of the second half proved very telling. In a 3:21 span, Wesleyan outscored Springfield, 10-2, breaking the game open. When Sprung hit a lay-up off a fine assist from Lowe, the Cardinals led 44-33 with 16:39 remaining.
Springfield had one more mini-run left in it, cutting the margin to five (46-41) with 12:35 left on a lay-up by freshman guard Abby Connors (Douglas, Mass.).
Wesleyan, however, eventually pushed the margin up to 18 points (68-50) when Lowe made a lay-up with 2:44 left. SC outscored Wesleyan, 5-2, the rest of the way to close the scoring.
Wesleyan shot well, especially in the second half when it made an impressive 16 of its 23 field goal attempts (.692). Overall, Wesleyan shot .483 (28-of-58) for the game, while Springfield shot .364 (20-of-55). SC had a slight edge in rebounding, 37-34, but Wesleyan committed only 12 turnovers, while SC committed 18.
Wesleyan will next play tomorrow in the women’s championship game at 5:30 pm against the winner of today’s game #2, Bates versus William Paterson. Springfield will play the loser of that game in the women’s consolation at 1 pm.