by Tom Utescher
In their last game before they dispersed for the holidays on Monday, December 19, the women of Chestnut Hill College hosted a team with a seasonally-appropriate cold weather mascot, the Bloomsburg University Huskies.
Bloomsburg, ranked first in the Eastern Division in the Pa. State Athletic Conference preseason poll, built up a 41-21 halftime lead and ran its record to 9-2 with an 80-64 victory. The host Griffins came into the contest with a 1-8 record that included one victory and three single-digit defeats in their four previous outings, but Monday’s game wasn’t destined to be close after Bloomsburg pushed its lead into double figures nine minutes into the event.
“When you let a team like Bloomsburg put up that many points in the first half, it’s a difficult hole to get yourself out of,” admitted first-year CHC coach Laura Pruitt.
Junior guard Marqesah Spicer started right in on her team-high scoring effort (18 points), breaking the ice for the evening with a short jumper. Visiting forward Lauren Ellis hit two lay-ups and a free throw over the first six-and-a-half minutes to help the Huskies rebound to a 12-6 lead, and a minute later CHC had to call a time-out, down 17-8.
Coming out of the peptalk Griffins freshman Adrianna Crenny sank a jumper from near the foul line, but then the Huskies were back at it with three straight field goals. The visitors’ lead kept growing in a series of little spurts, until it rested at 20 points for halftime, 41-21.
As the second period got undewrway, CHC junior Lindsay Alexander hit a three-pointer and a pair of lay-ups for seven of her 13 total points, but Bloomsburg still outscored the Griffins, 15-9, over the first six minutes for a 56-30 advantage.
The Chestnut Hill squad was energetic, but not always under control, and the Huskies were alert and adept enough to exploit most of these lapses. Still, the high turnover totals were close between the teams; 29 for CHC and 27 for the Huskies.
The Griffin giveaways had been at alarming levels early in the season, and Coach Pruitt noted, “They’re still too high, but now at least a lot of them are coming when we’re trying to be aggressive and going to the rim. Earlier a lot of them were unforced, just from carelessness.”
With a minute-and-a-half remaining in Monday’s game, the visitors were still leading by 26 points, now at 80-54. The Griffins played hard until the end, scoring the last 10 points of the night on seven-for-eight foulshooting by freshman Lila Jones (nine points total), and a three-point buzzer-beated by Spicer.
Bloomsburg senior Kelsey Gallagher, a guard who notched numerous lay-ups in transition, led all scorers with 20 points for the evening.
Going into the break, Chestnut Hill’s lone victory had come in its own Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (where CHC is 1-3), in a road game at Wilmington University.
“Of course, we’d like to have a higher number in the win column,” said Priutt, “but right now we’re concerned with teaching kids to play the right way, and laying the foundation for what we want to do going forwards.”
The holiday break will provide a chance for the Griffins to regroup.
“It’s important that we have an opportunity to rest,” reflected CHC’s first-year coach. “In these first 10 games the coaching staff has learned a lot about the kids and what makes them tick. We’re adding a young lady after Christmas and we hope she’ll give us a bit of a lift, especially with some of the injuries that we have right now.”
The new arrival is freshman Olivia Gorczynski, a sharpshooting guard from Cardinal McCarrick in the strong girls basketball belt in central New Jersey. As a senior she shot 49 percent from the three-point line, and ended her high school career with 1435 points.