by Tom Utescher
Last week the women’s NCAA summer league transitioned from the regular season to the playoff phase, with the last originally scheduled games occurring on Tuesday evening, and a tournament play-in round involving the four lowest-ranked teams taking place on Thursday.
On Thursday, the top six squads in the 10-team league were idle during the play-in, including undefeated and top-seeded Team Black and Mount St. Joseph graduate Caitlyn Cunningham, and fourth-seeded Team Royal Blue and former Penn Charter star Hannah Fox.
The Kelly Green team made up largely of Chestnut Hill College players finished seventh in the regular season and was one of the teams involved in Thursday’s play-in. The summer Griffins, seeded seventh, lost 90-68 to number 10 Team Lime Green, ending their run in the league.
In the other play-in bout on Thursday, eighth-seeded Team Sky Blue, which has 2018 Springside Chestnut Hill graduate Joelle Bridges on its roster, won a dramatic 62-58 victory over the ninth seed, Team Orange.
On Tuesday, Team Black (aka Jefferson University) completed a 9-0 run through the league’s regular season, going past Team Purple 97-61. Five three-pointers helped lead to a game-high 19 points for Jefferson’s Erin Maher, while 13 points came from Mount graduate Cunningham.
The University of the Sciences summer squad, Team Maroon, stayed right behind the Jefferson Rams, receiving 18 points from Jordan Vitelli in an 81-33 verdict over Team Orange, consisting mostly of players from Penn State Abington.
A third-place finish for the regular season was on the line as Team Royal Blue met Team Red, which both began the night with records of 6-2. Team Red wound up in third as 15 points from Division I forward Natalie Kucowski (St. Basil Academy/Lafayette College) helped power a 74-56 win.
The game high belonged to Royal’s Fox, the all-time leading scorer for Penn Charter who is now halfway through her career at Amherst College. She went six-for-six at the free throw line and totaled 16 points.
Coming into Tuesday’s games, Team Purple had been tied for fifth with Team Golden Sun, but with its loss to Team Black, the Purple pack wound up sixth at 4-5. With an 82-69 win over Team Kelly Green, Sun snagged fifth place outright at 5-4.
Kelly Green, with a number of CHC players, was missing a regular collegiate season starter in Shannon Glenn. Kelly was led by 19 points from sophomore Rachael Millan, while Myonie Williamson rang up 26 points for the victors.
Team Lime Green did not have enough players to officially engage Team Sky Blue on Tuesday, and forfeited for the record. Sky, featuring former Springsider Bridges and other Arcadia University athletes, contributed some personnel so that a pick-up game could be played.
The top six teams took the rest of the week off, while the other four came back on Thursday evening for the set of play-in games to see who’d fill the last two slots in the tournament’s quarterfinal bracket.
CHC’s Kelly Green, with its 2-7 record and a seventh-place seeding, squared off against number 10 Lime Green (1-8). Kelly at least had one sub on hand, while Lime had a total of five players. However, the Lime ladies outhustled their Kelly counterparts on a number of occasions during the contest.
Kelly was two points behind late in the first quarter before a three-pointer by Lime made it 28-23 at the end of the period. There was still a five-point gap at halftime (42-37), then Lime Green, scoring frequently in transition, pulled away in a 26-15 third quarter.
With a few minutes left in the final frame Lime’s lead peaked at 33 points (89-56). The final margin was locked in at 28 points (90-68) after incoming CHC freshman Lauren Crim scored seven of the last eight points in the contest on a lay-up, a three-pointer, and a pair of free throws. Kelly Green’s Crim led the losing cause with 19 points, while Lime received the game high of 32 from forward Lydia Konstanzer, an Ursinus College teammate of 2017 Penn Charter grad Lexi Hnatkowsky.
Although SCH alum Bridges was not on hand, her Sky Blue squad (2-7 regular season) prevailed in a pitched battle with Orange (1-8) in the second play-in.
With a little over 20 seconds left a three-pointer by Orange cut Sky’s lead to three points, at 59-56. Sky Blue went three-for-four at the foul line to widen the gap to six points once more, then a put-back at the buzzer by Orange made it a four-point final, 62-58. Sky Blue was led by a 20-point performance by Jamie “Samurai” Manzo.