ARLINGTON, Va. – Despite a glut of offensive rebounds and a potent three-headed attack, the Ursinus College women's basketball team fell victim to a strong closing stretch from Vassar in dropping a 74-64 decision in the opening round of the Pablo Coto Tip-Off Tournament on Friday night.
Returning to Marymount (Va.) for the second time in three years, the Bears (1-1) got a career-high 21 points from sophomore Aliyah Stephens, a career high-tying 18 points from sophomore Maya Kornfeld, and a double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds) out of junior Lydia Konstanzer. Despite racking up 21 offensive rebounds, Ursinus was unable to contain Vassar's two-headed monster of Isa Peczuh – who scored 22 points – and Sophie Nick, who poured in 15 of her game-high 27 in the fourth quarter to turn a one-point lead into a relatively comfortable triumph.
The Bears will take on Elmira in Saturday's consolation game at 5:30 p.m., to be followed by the championship game featuring the host Saints and Vassar.
Konstanzer got off to a red-hot start, posting three buckets in the first three minutes to help Ursinus open up an 8-2 lead in the early going. Peczih began to heat up in the latter stages of the frame, burying back-to-back triples to give Vassar (1-1) a 19-16 lead.
The Bears trailed by as many as four points in the second quarter, including at 29-25 after a basket by Nick at the 3:31 mark, but ended the first half on a 10-2 spurt. Konstanzer hit a pair of field goals and got help from Kornfeld and Stephens as part of a run of eight straight points. Sophomore Elizabeth Burke made a big play in the waning moments of the quarter, grabbing the rebound on a missed free throw by Konstanzer to set Kornfeld's driving lay-up on a second opportunity as the Bears went into the break with a 35-31 edge.
Burke's important rebound was part of a first-half trend for Ursinus, which corralled eight offensive boards and converted them into ten second-chance points.
The teams traded baskets on the first three possessions of the third quarter, the Bears' coming on an inch-perfect pass from Stephens to freshman Gabby Downs for an easy lay-in. Vassar took the lead on a 3-pointer by Peczuh , who added a free throw after a steal to make it 41-39 with 5:52 remaining.
Konstanzer got into the passing lane for a steal and fed ahead to Stephens for a breakaway layup to tie it at 41, and Kornfeld banked in a tough runner on a drive down the right side of the lane to give Ursinus the upper hand once more. The lead changed hands twice more until the period came to a close with the Brewers on top, 47-46.
Vassar scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to gain some separation before Stephens stopped the bleeding with a spinning bank shot. The Brewers stretched their advantage to eight on a step-back triple by Peczuh, who got a right-wing trey to bounce twice on the front rim before dropping in.
Stephens knifed in for a steal and fast-break layup to make it 62-56. But after a Vassar free throw, a swing of second-chance points doomed the Bears to defeat; Ursinus came up empty on a 3-pointer, and Nick buried one after an offensive rebound for the dagger and a 66-56 lead with 2:24 on the clock.
Stephens grabbed five offensive rebounds en route to finishing one board shy of a double-double, while Kornfeld was 9-for-15 from the field and tacked on three assists and two steals in playing all 40 minutes. Seven of Konstanzer's rebounds came on the offensive end.
The Bears attempted 20 more shots from the field than Vassar, but made just two more in shooting 36.4 percent (28-of-77) to the Brewers' 45.6 percent (26-of-57). Vassar also took advantage of big discrepancies in 3-point shooting and free-throw accuracy, going 7-of-14 from long range and 15-for-18 at the line; Ursinus was 1-for-12 on 3's and just 7-of-16 from the stripe.
Ursinus finished with a 50-32 edge in the paint and committed 11 turnovers to 17 for Vassar.