Jefferson wins key game, Chestnut Hill slips in summer league

by Tom Utescher
Posted 7/19/23

As play resumed last week in the college summer league, there was a possible tie for first place and a tiebreaker for second.

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Jefferson wins key game, Chestnut Hill slips in summer league


As play resumed last week in the college summer league following the July 4 hiatus, a possible tie for first place and a tiebreaker for second were on the docket.

As things turned out, the top spot remained solely in the possession of Team Black (Jefferson University), which ended the week with a record of 7-0). On Tuesday, the summer version of the Lady Rams survived a stiff challenge from Team Purple (West Chester University) by a score of 65-62 and then on Thursday Black downed the Team Pink alumni squad, 58-38.

The win over Purple, in particular, was impressive because one of Team Black's best players, grad student Haley Meinel, was away enjoying an extra week at the beach.

Going into Thursday's games, there had been a tie in the loss column between Team Red (Chestnut Hill College) at 5-1, and Team Sky Blue (Holy Family University) at 6-1. Sky, which won on Tuesday, knocked off CHC Red, 62-43, and the Chestnut Hill bunch dropped into a tie for third place with Team Purple, both at 5-2.

The last regular-season games in the league will be played this Tuesday when Red and Black go head-to-head and Sky Blue sits idle with a bye.

In its attempt last Tuesday to climb into a tie for first place by knocking off the league's last undefeated team, West Chester's Team Purple came out fired up and immediately jumped out ahead of Team Black. The challengers first gained a double-digit lead at 16-6 with 2:25 remaining in the opening quarter.

Purple led 20-9 at the end of the first period and increased its lead during the second quarter for a 39-24 halftime advantage.

Black began to battle back during the third round, with Sam Yencha and Emily Keehfuss leading the offense. With under three minutes left in the period, Emma Kuczynski made the second of two free throws to get the Jefferson franchise within one point of the leaders, 42-41. Then, with 2:27 on the clock, Morgan Robinson put in a jumper from the left baseline to give Team Black its first lead of the evening.

Purple was back in front by the end of the quarter, 48-45, and as the middle of the fourth quarter neared, they led Black by six points, 56-50.

Two made free throws by Yencha and one each by Robinson and Cassie Murphy narrowed the gap to two.

Murphy, in the post, hit a lay-up and a short jumper back-to-back to move Black ahead, and after a fruitless Purple possession, a reverse lay-up by Yencha made it 60-56. Purple called a time-out with 1:39 remaining.

After the teams exchanged single free throws, it became a two-point game when West Chester guard Leah Johnson hit a short pull-up jumper from the lane. With exactly one minute remaining, Yencha bagged the first of two free throws and Black led 62-59.

The contest was tied at 62-all when Purple's Rachel Conran nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key with 40 seconds left.

Black committed a turnover, but when Purple inbounded the ball Black's Emily Spratt stole it back and was fouled as she fell to the floor. With 40 seconds on the clock, she made both of her free throws for a 64-62 tally.

Purple fired an off-target shot at the other end and Black scavenged the rebound, and when Robinson was fouled in transition she made the first of two free throws with 13 seconds left. The final score of 65-62 was on the board, and Purple's final possession ended with a traveling call.

Each team had two scorers in double figures; Yencha (19) and Murphy (12) for the winners, and Rachel Conran (13) and Johnson (12) for Team Purple.

In an earlier game on Tuesday, Team Red struggled most of the way against winless Team Sun. Sun is the only outfit in the league that mixes Division II and III players, and it makes a big difference when the DII players (most of them from Kutztown University) show up at the gym.

Red (entirely Division II Chestnut Hill players) held just a one-point edge at the end of the first quarter. The summer Griffins repeatedly made impressive, athletic moves to the basket, but much of the time the ball avoided the hoop in the end.

Things got a little better late in the first half, and the score was 29-20 at the intermission. Team Red took a 39-27 lead into the fourth quarter, then Sun made an impressive rally that would come up one point short.

Recent Germantown Academy grad Abby Marino helped power the late Sun rally with a pair of three-pointers in the fourth quarter. This gave her a total of 10 points, while forward Mia Stock led the losing cause with a game-high 14 points. Leading the CHC ensemble were guards Avery White and Bridie McCann, with nine points apiece.

In other Tuesday tilts, the Team Pink alumni group topped the best of the Division III combo teams, Kelly Green, by a score of 40-37, while Sky Blue (Holy Family U.) romped, 80-45, over Team Royal Blue. CHC alumna Cassie Sebold was one of three Pink players with nine points.

The current Chestnut Hill players on Team Red took the court on Thursday against conference rival Holy Family (Team Sky Blue). Already undersized against the Sky squad (which has three players at six feet or taller), Red was missing 5'11" senior Lindsey Lane.

The Griffins started off well though, getting three-pointers from McCann and White and a transition lay-up from incoming freshman Caraline Herb over the first five minutes. A little later, Red led 12-7 thanks to a jumper by rookie Jessica Mangoni and a lay-up by Bri Rider.

Scoring from the foul line, the paint, and the three-point arc, Sky Blue took over the lead with 11 straight points and would remain ahead the rest of the way. White drove for a lay-up at the end of the first quarter to get Red back to a four-point deficit, 18-14.

The CHC bunch got within two points early in the second period, then Sky Blue pulled away to a 27-18 advantage. Red finished the half with a trey by Sara Tamoun and a lay-up by Siobhan Boylan, and the score was 27-23 heading into the break.

A few minutes into round three, Sky Blue had added a point to its lead with the tally at 34-29. Three-pointers by Herb and fellow freshman Angelina Balcer helped Chestnut Hill later on, but late in the period Sky Blue pushed its lead into double digits and still was up by nine points at the three-quarter mark, 46-37.

A lay-up by Balcer gave Red the first points of the final frame, but the CHC group wouldn't score again for over four minutes as Sky pushed farther ahead, 55-39. In all, Red was outscored 16-6 in the fourth quarter and Sky Blue won by 19 points, 62-43.

As on Tuesday, the CHC summer squad was led by White (12 points) and McCann (10). Jessica Riepe had a game-high 14 for Sky Blue.

The other games played on Thursday were decided by similar margins. Murphy scored a game-high 16 points as both she and her Jefferson squad produced a lot of points from the foul line in a 58-38 victory over Pink. Another 20-point margin favored Team Purple over Team Sun, 79-59. Kelly Green won by forfeit over Team Maroon.