by Tom Utescher
Last Wednesday night at Chestnut Hill College the Devils got their due, as the University of the Sciences teams bearing that nickname topped their male and female CHC counterparts.
The USciences women, one of the top squads in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, beat Chestnut Hill, 69-54, and the Devils men, no slouches themselves, topped the Griffins 78-62. USciences ascended to a record of 12-1 in the conference and 16-4 overall on the women’s side, while the CHC ladies emerged at 4-9, 6-14. For the men, it was UPS coming away 10-2, 16-4, while Chestnut Hill mulled over marks of 3-9, 4-15.
The Devil women include a number of athletes familiar to area basketball fans. The former Mount St. Joseph rivals on the USciences squad are Nazareth Academy grad Jessica Sylvester, now a college senior, and St. Basil alum Molly Greenberg, a freshman at USciences. The freshman class also includes Episcopal Academy product Sarah Abbonizio from the Inter-Ac League, and Shipley grad Colleen Walsh out of the Friends Schools League.
However, it is a New Jersey native, senior guard Brianne Traub, who lights up Chestnut Hill just about every time the two teams play. Her 16 points paced the visitors on Wednesday, and Abbonizio (12) was the second-leading scorer for the Devils, who had five other athletes contribute five or more points. Central High alum Isabella Ross, a senior forward, had a game-high nine rebounds to go with her nine points.
The game high of 20 points belonged to CHC’s Shayla Felder, a senior guard out of Cheltenham High School. She split her scoring evenly between the two halves, but the Griffins had trouble building around her steady performance. Senior sharpshooter Olivia Gorczynski was kept in single figures; her total of nine points was matched by another senior guard, Tenisha Townsend-Mobley. For the evening, USciences shot 51 percent from the floor, and CHC 34 percent.
Jump-shooting by Felder and Gorczynski kept the Griffins in contention for awhile, and they only trailed 15-13 eight minutes into the action. The Devils then put up the next eight points to push their lead into double figures, and they went on to a 47-29 halftime advantage. During the first period, Chestnut Hill lost an important presence in the paint when senior forward Tiffany Turner had to take a seat on the bench with three fouls.
The pace of the scoring slowed in the second half, but CHC never got any closer than 13 points, and ended up losing by two points more than that. Turner had come back out to start the second half for the Griffins, but half-a-minute later she was off the court with a fourth personal.
The Chestnut Hill men stayed closer to their USciences rivals for a longer period of time than the Griffin women. Senior forward Filip Sekulic thrived in the paint and led all scorers for the first 20 minutes with 14 points. In the last five minutes of the half, sophomore guard Billy Cassidy (a Friends Central grad) plunked down three three-point field goals, helping the hosts keep their deficit to a manageable seven points for halftime, 38-31.
The Griffins had more rebounds than the visiting squad in the first period, but they also committed more turnovers. On field goal attempts, the Devils were about nine percentage points better than CHC.
Recognizing which Griffins were doing the most damage on offense, the Devils came back out and held Sekulic to three points and Cassidy to four in the second half.
With around eight minutes gone in the new period, CHC freshman guard Ed McWade hit a lay-up and a short baseline jumper back-to-back, trimming the USciences lead back to seven points (49-42), where it had been at halftime. In between those two buckets, though, Griffins senior guard Christian Walck would be tagged with his fourth personal foul.
Walck would eventually foul out of the game, and McWade himself would wind up with four infractions.
In the middle of the period, the Devils drove their lead into double figures, and then kept it in the low to mid teens the rest of the way. To the casual observer, it appeared that one of two junior guards would end up as high scorer for the winners. Dylan Kerwin finished with 16 points and Sho Da-Silva had 15, but it was no surprise to Usciences supporters that a less flamboyant player, forward Garrett Kerr, came away with a game-high 18 points.
The 6’4” senior had scored his 2000th career point against visiting Chestnut Hill back on January 9. He’s seldom flashy, just brutally efficient, and when opponents make mistakes anywhere in his vicinity, they pay either an offensive or defensive toll.
Last Wednesday USciences had a fourth double-digit scorer in freshman forward Will Gregorits, who chalked up a dozen points. After Sekulic (17) and Cassidy (13), the next highest total for CHC was seven points.