COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College women's basketball team jetted past Washington College and into the Centennial Conference playoff field following a 64-49 victory at Helfferich Hall on Thursday night.
Ursinus (14-8, 11-6) clinched its second consecutive conference playoff berth with continued dominance over the Shorewomen, winning their fifth straight matchup and stretching the streak to nine in a row at Helfferich Hall. With a postseason spot safely under wraps, the only thing left to be decided is whether the Bears will host a first-round game as the number four seed or go on the road as the fifth seed.
The pesky Bears turned the Shorewomen over 20 times, a big factor in the victory.
For the most part, the Bears controlled the game after a high-scoring 21-18 first quarter that had the Shorewomen ahead. Sophomore Aliyah Stephens poured in a game-high 21 points, grabbed five rebounds, and swatted a career-high five shots to lead the Bears' contingent. Stephens went 8-of-14 from the field on her way to picking up her fifth 20-point game of the season.
Stephens' classmate, Maya Kornfeld, contributed 14 points at the point guard position.
A strong 19-9 second quarter put the Bears up seven points (37-30) at halftime. An evenly played third quarter gave the same seven-point margin into the fourth quarter before Ursinus expanded upon its lead by outscoring Washington, 17-9, in the last frame on 7-of-12 (58.3%) shooting. Junior Lydia Konstanzer cashed in two jumpers and a layup to give the Bears a 53-40 lead less than two minutes into the last quarter.
The Shorewomen (7-14, 4-12) got within nine points with 6:39 left before freshman Gabby Downs buried a triple with under five minutes to go. Downs scored 10 points, corralled six rebounded and made two treys on the night, extending her streak to seven consecutive games with a 3-point field goal.
Stephens made a pair of free throws and hit a jump shot to go up 16 points at 62-46 with under two minutes to play. Sophomore Marisa Morano's drive gave the Bears their largest lead of 64-47 with 36 seconds remaining.
In the first quarter, Stephens' drive to the basket through contact led off the game's scoring. Cassidy Quattro, whose brother Zach played on the Ursinus men's basketball team, scored the first eight points for the Shorewomen on the way to a team-high 16 along with nine boards. Morano then threw in a reverse after driving down the baseline to go up 11-6.
Two buckets from Kristi Kozlowski gave Washington College an 18-15 edge. Kozlowski was other Shorewoman in double figures with 11 points and eight rebounds. Konstanzer made a freebie to tie the score at 18-18, and Washington's Emily Helms canned a triple near the end of the first quarter to take a 21-18 lead.
The Bears doubled up the Shorewomen, 19-9, in the second quarter. Stephens finished off a high-low feed behind the post defender from Morano to take the lead, 22-21, early in the frame.
The teams traded the lead before the Bears closed out the second quarter strongly. Ursinus worked pretty transition offense when Kornfeld found a sprinting Stephens down the court for an easy deuce. Stephens closed her 13-point first-half with a long step-back trey from the top of the key to push the lead to nine points, 37-28, with 1:49 left in the half.
Ursinus kept its seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter after both teams scored 10 points in a slow third quarter.
Ursinus shot 25-of-59 (42.4%) overall, 3-of-13 (23.1%) from 3-point range, and 11-of-17 (64.7%) from the free throw line.
Washington College shot 20-of-58 (34.5%) from the floor, 2-of-9 (22.2%) from deep, and 7-of-10 (70%) from the charity stripe.
The Shorewomen, a strong offensive rebounding team, outrebounded Ursinus, 43-34.
The Bears travel to McDaniel on Saturday at 1 p.m.