The Wilmington College women's basketball team scored the game's first 11 points, and held off a third quarter charge, to advance to the Ohio Athletic Conference semifinals with a 67-52 victory over Mount Union Tuesday at Fred Raizk Arena in Hermann Court.
Wilmington travels to face Baldwin Wallace 6 p.m. Thursday for a spot in the OAC title game. The two teams split their meetings, each winning on their home court.
Defensively, the Fightin' Quakers held their guests scoreless for a little more than six minutes
"It was the start I hoped for," said Wilmington head coach Jerry Scheve. "My experiences are that the team that has played most recently in a tournament like this, is the most ready to play, and that concerned me. The fact we got off to a very good start was a good sign for us. The entire first half we played a great defensive game. Every time they seemed to make a run, we answered with a bigger run, and were able to get into halftime with a comfortable lead. What we thought, was a comfortable lead."
Wilmington held the Purple Raiders at bay, holding Mount Union to 18 first-half points on just 17.2 percent shooting (5-of-29). Meanwhile the Fightin' Quakers scored 18 points in each period.
Junior Savannah Hooper (Leesburg, OH/Wilmington) and sophomore Mackenzie Campbell (Cincinnati, OH/Turpin) were the offensive catalyst over the first 20 minutes, combining for 20 of WC's 36 points. The pair combined to shoot 72.7 percent (8-of-11) from the field. The rest of the team was just 29.1 percent (7-of-24).
Mount Union didn't waste any time in climbing back into the came as senior Abby Bartoszewicz drained back-to-back three's and Wilmington lead was 33 percent smaller two minutes into the half.
"She is their leading scorer, their leader," said Scheve. "If anyone was going to bring them back, it was going to be her. She is a kid that has an extremely quick shot, and she knocked a couple down. What she did was re-energize her whole team. They are a quality team that is never going to give up, and they didn't give up tonight. They made us work all the way to the end."
While WC seemed to stem the rally, the Purple Raiders proved they were not going to go away quietly. Following a three-point play with 56 seconds remaining, Mount Union trailed by just eight. However, senior Brittaney Jefferson (Dayton, OH/Chaminade Julienne) trailed a three from the corner, and the home team led by 11 heading into the fourth period.
With the foul total adding up, Wilmington turned to an unlikely source for quality minutes down the stretch.
"We had some exhausted kids, and some kids with foul trouble," said Scheve. "One of the keys to the game was A.J. (Arling) coming into the game to give up seven quality minutes. We had three of our post players in big foul trouble, so that was huge for us."
Sophomore A.J. Arling (Minster, OH/Minster) pulled down two boards, and didn't allow the Fightin' Quakers to skip a beat defensively. While Arling was helping Scheve bide his time, senior Ashley Andracki (Columbus, OH/Bishop Watterson) came up with the biggest play of the second half.
"Ashley Andracki's three, midway through the fourth quarter, was the shot of the game," said Scheve. "We were struggling and they had it to nine. We some key players on the bench, and she stepped up like a senior leader is supposed to."
Campbell finished with a team-high 18 points with eight boards, while Jefferson added 14 points and seven rebounds. Hooper was the third player in double figures with 11 points and six boards.