by Tom Utescher
In NCAA women’s summer league hoops action last Thursday, several Division II match-ups were on tap. The Orange team, staffed entirely by Philadelphia University players, bowed 69-53 to West Chester’s summer entity, Team Vegas Gold. The Ash Grey squad, which includes several Chestnut Hill College athletes, had a much tougher time trying to stay with Royal Blue, which consists of women from Holy Family College. Royal romped, 52-29.
West Chester is a longtime member of the Pa. State Athletic Conference, while Chestnut Hill, Philly U., Holy Family, and University of the Sciences (Team Kelly Green in summer ball) make up most of the southern division in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.
Meanwhile, Mount St. Joe grad Elle Hagedorn and her league-leading Lime Green group received their toughest challenge up to this point in the young season. It wasn’t until the final dozen minutes that Lime Green pushed their lead into double digits, eventually winning 75-62 over Columbia Blue.
Ash Grey has five Chestnut Hill College players on its roster, but not all of them were in attendance, while Royal Blue consists entirely of athletes used to playing together. Royal led early and kept pulling away until they had their rivals doubled up at 24-12 with a little over five minutes remaining in the first half. They still had a two-to-one advantage at halftime, when the count was 34-17, and the margin crept over 20 points by the middle of the second stanza.
CHC senior forward Lindsay Alexander had six points and sophomore guard Lila Jones scored five in the losing cause. Ash Grey also got five points from Brenna Coll, a Springside graduate who is a rising sophomore at Delaware Valley College. Royal Blue point guard Ana Cruz led all scorers with 13 points, and the winners got nine and eight points, respectively, from former Catholic Academies standouts Mary Ellen McCollum (St. Basil) and Erin Mann (Villa Maria).
The Philly U. Orange team got a three-pointer and a pair of free throws from Taylor Peltzer as it gained an early 8-5 lead over Vegas Gray, but West Chester-powered Vegas then went ahead for good with 12 unanswered points.
Vegas kept raising the stakes until it led 36-14, but former Central High star Najah Jacobs came off the bench to give Orange a spark in terms of ballhandling and defense, and the deficit was down to a dozen at the intermission, 42-26. Orange also got a boost in the low post from Mary Newell, an incoming freshman out of Villa Joseph Marie.
Orange played better in the second half than it had early in the opening period, but still didn’t make any serious inroads into the Vegas girls’ double-digit advantage. Germantown Academy grad Monica Schacker hooped her lone field goal during the second frame, a three-pointer from the left corner, but it was Peltzer and Newell who led the offense with 10 points apiece.
Forward Kendall Benovy had a game-high 14 points for Vegas Gold, which received 11 points from guard Tiffany Johnson, a rising sophomore out of Cheltenham High School.
Lime Green remained one of three undefeated franchises in the league thus far (along with Black and Hunter Green), but Thursday’s win wasn’t a cakewalk. At the guard spots, Upper Dublin High School grads Taylor Bryant (’12) and Shira Newman (’09) kept things cooking for Columbia Blue, and on the inside was 6’3” Princeton recruit Alex Wheatley. The Limeys leapt out to a 6-0 advantage, but Columbia quickly caught up and then went ahead, leading 18-15 just past the midway point of the half.
After narrowing the gap to one point, Lime Green moved back in front, 20-18, when forward Dana Mitchell converted off a rebound and added a free throw with 8:10 to go in the first period. By halftime, Lime’s position was a little more secure, but certainly not unassailable, at 35-29. Mitchell had nine points in the book at the break, while Columbia had received 11 from Wheatley and nine from Bryant.
One of the keys for Lime in the second half was that they shut out Wheatley, which they really had to do in light of Bryant’s 20-point explosion after the intermission (for a game-high 29). Several Lime Green ladies upped their output in the second half, as well, with Katie Kuester netting 12 of her 19 total points and Alicia Manning amassing eight of her 14 after the halftime huddle.
Columbia actually had the lead down to three points in the early stages of the second period, but with 13-and-a-half minutes to go Lime Green was up 46-37, and they led by 15 about seven minutes after that. The gap grew as large as 19 points (73-54) down the stretch before settling in at 13 for the final buzzer. Mitchell finished with 15 and Meg Pearson put in three three-pointers for the victors.