Da’Kiya Johnson, a junior transfer into Chestnut Hill College, lofts a shot for the Ash Gray team in the NCAA Summer League. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

With last week’s Tuesday and Thursday evening games, the NCAA Women’s Summer Basketball League wrapped up the 2012 regular season, spelling the end of the line for the last four teams in the standings, while the top eight moved into this week’s playoff quarterfinals.

The Lime Green squad that includes Mount St. Joe alumna Elle Hagedorn won its two outings last week to clinch the top seed with a perfect 11-0 record. The two-time defending champions open their playoff run against Team Purple (4-7), the eighth seed but by no means a pushover, with three Lehigh University players on the roster along with former Council Rock North/Princeton star Addie Micir.

Germantown Academy grad Monica Schacker will also made a playoff appearance. Although they split in their two tilts last week, Schacker and her Orange teammates (all Philadelphia University players) were able to secure the seventh seed with a 5-6 record. It’s a nice step forward from Philly U’s last-place finish in 2011.

One of the eliminated teams was the Ash Gray team that has half-a-dozen Chestnut Hill College athletes in the line-up, along with Springside grad Brenna Coll. A pair of losses last week gave them a final record of 4-7, and they lost a tiebreaker for the eighth playoff spot to Team Purple, which had won a head-to-head meeting between the two ballclubs on Tuesday evening.

The season also ended for 2012 Mount St. Joe grad Bridget Higgins and Team Gold, which finished up 0-11 despite hanging tough against some of the league’s top teams.

In one of the early games on Tuesday, Ash Gray got up 10-5 on Purple, who eventually pulled even at 13-all about 11 minutes into the game. Purple kept on going to earn a 27-21 advantage at halftime, when CHC’s Lindsay Alexander led Ash Gray with four points.

Close to the midway point of the second period, the gap reached double figures at 41-31, but Ash Gray whittled down its deficit. With 3:30 on the clock a lay-up by Da’Kiya Johnson of CHC made it a six-point affair at 47-41, and as the final minute neared the Gray got within three points, 49-46.

Neither team scored on its next possession, and Purple put the final score on the board by hitting one of two free throws. Alexander ended up with 10 points and Johnson with nine, while two three-pointers helped their CHC teammate Lila Jones add eight point to the cause.

On the next court, there was what amounted to a Division II in-conference clash, as the Orange (Philadelphia University) overpowered Kelly Green (University of the Sciences in Philadelphia). After three minutes of play between the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference rivals it was still 0-0, but over the next few minutes Orange moved in front, 7-2, and at the 10-minute mark they were ahead by a dozen, 19-7.

Taylor Peltzer’s nine points helped pave the way to a 33-18 lead at the intermission, and in the second frame

Kelly Green was unable to made a serious comeback bid. With 11:30 left to play, Courtney Overholt came in along the left baseline for a lay-up that pushed the margin over 20 points, at 49-28. From there, Orange cruised to a 76-43 win.

Schacker, the GA grad, sank 10 of her game-high 14 points in the second half. Peltzer scored 11 points, and Samantha Morris added eight for the victors.

Yet another Division II team, Vegas Gold (aka West Chester University) gave Lime Green a go in the early minutes, and was ahead at 14-13. Lime scored a bucket to move in front and then subbed in a new group of players, who reinforced the lead. It was 42-26 by halftime, and the teams spent the second half in sort of a holding pattern, since the spread was still 16 points at the buzzer. The winners received double-digit scoring from Dana Mitchell (20), Katie Kuester (15), and Meg Pearson (13).

In another Tuesday tussle, Higgins’ Team Gold got off to a 9-0 start against the second-place Black team, but by the break Black had sidled into the lead, 40-38. It was still a three-point contest in the final minute, then Black went up 80-74.

The final score was locked in at 80-77 by a three-point shot at the buzzer by Gold’s Ashley Prim, who had a game-high 31 points and a total of five three’s. Another St. Joseph’s University player, Jordan Strode, deposited 29 points, and Higgins contributed four.

With no possibility of making the playoffs, the Gold team only turned out four players two nights later for the regular-season finale. They had to forfeit to Vegas Gold, and that helped Vegas win a tiebreaker for sixth place over the Orange (both teams went 5-6, but Vegas defeated Orange back in late June).

Since Gold almost had a full team, an unofficial four-on-five game was played, which Gold actually won, 63-59.

In its regular-season swansong on Thursday, Team Orange had trouble generating offense early in the game, but still was not completely out of the running at halftime, when they trailed number three Hunter Green, 28-19. Orange’s points in the period were widely distributed, and Morris led the bunch with four. Hunter, with two veteran players from St. Joe’s and two incoming freshmen who will join the Hawks in the fall (one of them is Cheltenham High’s Ciara Andrews), rebounded well and also squeezed the Orange for turnovers.

The Philly U. franchise upped its point production in the second half, but so did Hunter Green, which went on to win 65-47 behind 18 points from guard Erin Shields. Forward Kristen Blye had a team-high 11 points for the Orange, who got seven points from Bria Young and six apiece from Morris and Najah Jacobs.

With the top seed already in hand, Lime Green had an unusually low turnout of just six athletes, none of them post players. Still, the league leaders were too much for Ash Gray, which kept pace up to 9-9 before falling behind for good. Kuester canned a three-pointer for Lime to kick off the scoring in the game, and she led with her hot hand the rest of the way.

Chestnut Hill College’s Megan Shaughnessy had two treys of her own for Ash Gray in the first half, and Alexander scored seven points in the period, but at the break Kuester had four three-pointers and 14 total points in the book as the Lime led, 37-22.

Over the first five minutes of the second half, Ash Gray climbed back within 11 of the leaders at 39-28, but a Lime Green time-out helped spawn a 7-1 spurt that got the league’s top seed back on course. The gap widened to 25 points with under two minutes to play, and was locked in at 21 with a 68-47 final reckoning.

Kuester funneled in a game-high 27 points, and other Limeys at or near double figures were Danielle Callahan, with a dozen points, and Jen Prine and Katie O’Reilly, with nine apiece. Ash Gray got 11 from Alexander and eight from her college teammate, Shaughnessy.

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