Women’s Basketball Opens Conference Play with a Victory

By Jimmy Cassidy

In their first game at the Raymond A. DuFour Center of the season, the women’s basketball team at the Catholic University of America rallied to defeat Landmark Conference opponent Susquehanna University on Wednesday, December 2nd. The Cardinals faced a five point deficit with just six minutes left in the contest, but ended the game with 13 unanswered points to knock off the Crusaders, 57-49. The victory puts the team’s record at 2-3 overall with an important 1-0 start to their conference mark. Susquehanna left the nation’s capital with their first loss of the young season, as the team dropped to 4-1 on the year.

Junior guard Michelle DeSantis was very involved in the offensive attack against the Crusaders, tallying a team-high 12 points and 4 assists in the game. Fellow junior guard Bridget Power also played her part in the victory with 10 points and 7 rebounds of her own. Senior guard Jayni Webster drained three of her six 3-point attempts and finished with 10 points. As a unit, Catholic shot 38% from the field on 21-56 shooting. The Cards reached the free throw line much more than their opponents, shooting 12-21 from the charity stripe while the Crusaders went 4-4. One noticeable difference in team statistics from the game was the scoring from the bench, as CUA got 16 points out of their non-starters in comparison to Susquehanna’s 4 point output from their bench.

“Although we started off a little rocky, after our home opener last night things seems to be looking like they are coming together,” Webster said after the game. “We are looking to take this season up a notch from last year and use our talent and team chemistry to take us to the next level.”

New in the 2015-2016 season, NCAA women’s basketball games will be played in four 10-minute quarters instead of the 20-minute halves it has always played. It is a move that the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee believes will enhance the flow of the game. This change, in addition to a few minor rule changes related to the switch, will be cause for the minor learning curve for all players likely happening in the early stages of this season. The Cardinals came out after the first ten-minute period and outscored Susquehanna 15-4 in the second quarter. This strong performance put Catholic on top with a 27-15 lead at halftime. The game that looked like it might become lopsided in the Cardinals’ favor took a major turn when the second half began.

The 12-point deficit did not cause the Crusaders to roll over in defeat. They stormed back into the contest and outshot the home team 20-10. A number of these attempts were successful as the lead for CUA shrunk to just two points at the end of the third ten-minute period. The 37-35 lead for Catholic quickly disappeared as the final quarter started, and the momentum was in the hands of the visiting Crusaders. Susquehanna jumped out to a 47-40 advantage in the first few minutes, and the Cardinals needed a run of their own in the back and forth contest. After two layups, Catholic then allowed Susquehanna two free throws to maintain a 49-44 lead with four minutes left to play. Stellar late-game defense from CUA caused bad shots and turnovers out of their opponents and the winning run began. It was a run that started and finished with Power putting points on the board. As the clock showed all zeros, the Crusaders’ lead was nowhere to be found, and the 13-point run from Catholic was the difference.

“I think we just really played the lockdown defense that we define ourselves by,” Power said. “It took us a while to figure how exactly to guard their offense, but once we finally did our rotations worked perfectly.”

The 57-49 win was a strong start for CUA in Landmark Conference play. The team will be back in conference action tomorrow, Saturday, December 5th against the Moravian College Greyhounds in Bethlehem, PA.

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