KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 10, 2014) – The USMMA women's basketball team defeated non-conference foe St. Joseph's of Long Island at home on Wednesday night, 62-55. With the victory, the Mariners improve to 2-4 overall on the season, while the Golden Eagles fall to 2-5.
Coming into the contest, senior Demi VanDerWal (Springfield, Ill.) was 23 points shy of the 1,000 career points milestone and after a rough first half in which she scored only two points, she exploded in the second half to score 21 points and finish with exactly enough to reach 1,000. She became just the fifth Mariner in program history to join the elite club.
USMMA held the lead for the early stages of the opening half, getting its advantage up to as many as four points on two separate occasions, including a 6-2 lead at 15:29 after freshman Samantha Drake (Centereach, N.Y.) hit a pair of free throws. St. Joseph's turned on the heat and ran off a 16-7 run over the next eight minutes to take their largest lead of the game, five points (18-13), at 7:18, forcing the Mariners to call a timeout.
After the break, Merchant Marine scored the next six points, all on excellent free-throw shooting by sophomore Julie Mall (Littlestown, Pa.), who hit two, and classmate Kelsey Hoffmann (Adel, Iowa), who hit four, to take a one-point lead, 18-17 at 4:43. The teams would swap leads three more times before time ran out on the half with the Golden Eagles leading by one, 24-23.
In the second half, VanDerWal scored seven of the Mariners first 11 points in just over four minutes, and USMMA went on an impressive 18-4 run to build up a 14-point lead, 41-27, with 12:28 to go. VanDerWal added five more points over the next four minutes to bring her total up to 14 for the night. She would add four more points with pairs of free throws at 5:02 and 3:40.
The Golden Eagles fought back to within six points, 57-51, with just 1:55 to play, but on the ensuing possession, VanDerWal nailed a layup to bring her total to 20 points and give the Mariners an eight point advantage, 59-51. As the clock continued to tick down, St. Joseph's missed a three-pointer the other way and VandDerWal grabbed the rebound and brought the ball up-court. She fired the 1,000-point clinching three-pointer with just 1:09 remaining and the crowd went crazy and there was a break in action as her teammates mobbed her on the court and head coach Matt Dempsey and assistant Alexa Shields presented VanDerWal with a ceremonial 1,000-point ball.
St. Joseph's would add three more points, but it didn't dampen the mood, as the Mariners secured the seven-point victory.
VanDerWal finished with 23 points, five rebounds and a team-high three steals. Freshman Jenna Wetherington (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) added nine points and 12 boards, while Mall finished with eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Drake chipped in with six points off the bench and also brought down 11 boards and dished out three assists. Hoffman also finished with six points.
For the Golden Eagles, Rynese Smith notched a team-best 16 points and two other players scored in double-figures – Jackie Zizzo had 14 and Andrea Iavarone drained 11. Iavarone also led her team with seven rebounds and a game-high five blocks.
The Mariners return to action this weekend, when they hit the road for two Landmark Conference games. On Saturday, they will square off against new conference member, Elizabethtown, before the final game of 2014 on Sunday at Scranton. Both games will begin at 2 p.m.
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