by Tom Utescher
Team Electric Green, the only franchise featuring area players that was still alive in the NCAA women’s summer league at the start of the final week of competition, reached the end of the line on Tuesday, succumbing 73-56 to top-seeded Team Maroon in the first of the evening’s semifinals. Missing two major offensive threats for this contest, fourth-seeded Electric Green let a huge deficit develop in the first half, and they were just too far back for their plucky second-half rally to get them back to even.
Germantown Academy grad Jaryn Garner led her Green group with 20 points, but the squad was missing the injured forward Chelsea Woods, who is also Garner’s teammate at St. Joseph University and who has scored more than 30 points in a number of summer league bouts. There have been several 20-point-plus games for another Electric athlete, 2016 Penn Charter grad Hannah Fox. She had hoped to make it down from Massachusetts in between sessions at a basketball camp she’s helping to run at her own Amherst College, but the logistics simply couldn’t be worked out.
Fox is an outside markswoman and Woods can also hit the three when she’s not making power moves to the basket. Team Maroon (essentially the University of the Sciences hoopsters playing as a unit) had just about all of its perimeter shooters on hand, and they rained three-pointers down on Electric.
As the game got underway, it almost seemed like the players who were in attendance for Green didn’t fully appreciate the fact they would now have to shoulder the entire offensive burden. Maroon rolled to a 22-0 lead over the course of the first quarter, and it wasn’t until a minute into the second round that Electric Green put up its first two points with a pair of free throws by Garner.
Things got rather ugly later in the quarter, with the USciences summer squad holding a 44-8 advantage with two minutes remaining. There was still a gap of more than 30 points at halftime, 46-14. Late in the third stanza, a breakaway bucket by Garner trimmed the margin down to the teens (59-40) for the first time since the opening period, but the spread was 20-points even at the three-quarter mark.
Garner, who had scored five points in the first half, posted 15 in the second, and her teammates stepped it up as well. Green drew within 13 points of the leaders (63-50) with 5:40 left to play, but that was as close as the Electric ensemble could come.
In the second semifinal, an identical final score was produced by the victorious three seed, a Team White squad that includes a number of players from last year’s league champion, then dubbed Team Gold. Team White won out over second-seeded Forest Green (mostly West Chester University players), as another of Garner’s St. Joseph teammates, forward Amanda Fioravanti, scored a game-high 25 points.
Forest Green kept pace early on in this one, but they’d already fallen behind by 10 points near the end of the first quarter.
Team White had dealt Maroon a rare setback on the league’s opening night in the middle of June, 56-50, and the season ended in the same manner in early August, with White winning an even closer game in last Thursday’s championship, 53-50.
White managed to keep Maroon’s perimeter shooters under control much of the way. Just past the middle of the second quarter, the teams were locked up at 23-all, but White opened up a small gap and then hit a lay-up at the halftime buzzer to make it 32-24.
After White finally bumped the lead up to double digits, a late Maroon jumper caused the third quarter to end in a 10-10 draw, 42-34. First to get into the foul bonus in the fourth quarter, Maroon incorporated some made free throws into a late rally. Twice in the final 90 seconds, they edged ahead by one point.
White’s Shira Newman, an Upper Dublin grad who had scored the lay-up at the first-half horn, now netted a clutch “three” from the left corner, giving her squad a 52-50 lead with 20 seconds to play. A Maroon miss on a drive down the lane was rebounded by Team White workhorse Fioravanti, who made one of two free throws when she was fouled to tack the final score on the board. Maroon got the last shot, but their three-ball bounced up off the rim and clear of the cylinder.
Playoff MVP Fioravanti finished with 20 points on the night.