Tournament Seeding On The Line As W&J Travels To Waynesburg On Saturday
WASHINGTON, Pa. – The 2011-12 regular season comes to an end for the Washington & Jefferson College basketball teams when they travel to face Waynesburg on Saturday afternoon.
Both squads have earned spots in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championship Tournament that begins next week. The W&J men currently sit in eighth place, but with a win on Saturday, they would clinch the seventh seed. The women’s team is tied with Thiel for sixth place and would be either the No. 6 or No. 7 seed depending on the outcome of its game against Waynesburg and Thiel’s contest with Grove City. The PAC will release tournament brackets late Saturday night or Sunday.
The W&J women (12-12, 7-10) routed an undermanned Geneva squad 69-44 on Wednesday. Senior forward Ashley Kirkpatrick (Sharon, Pa./Kennedy Catholic) nailed all nine of her shots from the field and 4-of-4 free throws to pace the team with 22 points. She also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out three assists as the Presidents swept the Golden Tornadoes. Beth DeLuca kept Geneva close during the early going with a pair of long three-pointers, but W&J pulled away with a 7-0 spurt late in the half starting with a triple from senior Blair Cotton (Pittsburgh, Pa./Oakland Catholic). The Presidents were never challenged in the second half as their lead grew as large as 29 points.
Cotton tallied nine points, two assists and two rebounds, while freshman guard Alexa DelGreco (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton LaSalle) added six points, five assists and four steals.
Kirkpatrick just missed her fourth-straight double-double, falling just one rebound short. She has seven this winter (2nd PAC) and is averaging 19.5 points and 11.3 rebounds over the team’s last four games.
W&J will be looking to avoid a second-straight season sweep by Waynesburg (18-6, 13-4) after the Yellow Jackets downed the Presidents 47-43 in Washington earlier this season. Senior point guard Vanessa Rivera (Reading, Pa./Wilson) was the lone President to reach double figures with 15 points as W&J was limited to just 23.9 percent (16-67) shooting. Jessi Drayer broke a 43-43 tie with exactly 60 seconds to go by hitting a jumper and the Presidents could not come up with a game-tying bucket during any of their final three possessions. Brittany Spencer sank a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining to ice the game for the Yellow Jackets.
Drayer led all scorers with 17 points, while Paige Pearce grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds and blocked seven shots. Drayer is tied with Kirkpatrick for third in the league in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per game, while Pearce ranks third in blocked shots (37).
The W&J men (7-17, 3-12) ended an eight-game losing streak with a 89-73 victory against Geneva on Wednesday. Senior guard Uchenna Okocha (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/University School) netted a career-high 18 points, while freshman Mike Resnik (White Oak, Pa./McKeesport) poured in a team-high 19 points off the bench. The Presidents opened up a 10-point halftime advantage and held a double-digit lead for nearly the entire second half.
In all, W&J had five players score in double figures. Along with Okocha and Resnik, junior Zach Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) scored 18 points, while freshman Andy Carter (North Huntingdon, Pa./Norwin) added 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore Brett Rubin-Goldstein (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel) contributed 10 points along with four rebounds and three steals.
Bellhy continues to lead the conference in scoring at 18.9 points per game. With 11 more points, he will post the 10th-highest , single season scoring total in school history.
The Presidents scored 89 points on 55 percent (35-64) shooting, it highest scoring output and shooting percentage since torching Penn State-Fayette for 105 points on 39-66 (.591) shooting last season.
Ben Altmeyer drilled six three-pointers to help Waynesburg grab a 69-57 road victory at W&J in mid-January. The Yellow Jackets raced out to an early 24-9 lead behind six baskets from Altmeyer and held on to a double-digit edge for a majority of the game. In all, Altmeyer recorded 25 points, five rebounds and three assists. Carter led the Presidents with 19 points and six rebounds, while Resnik added 10 points. Bellhy, the team’s leading scorer, was limited to a season-low two points while playing through an illness.
Waynesburg has lost seven-straight games since that January 18 matchup and sits in ninth place in the PAC standings. The Yellow Jackets fell to Grove City by a score of 82-64 on Wednesday night. Kurt Bonnet poured in a game-high 17 points, while Altmeyer recorded 12 points and a team-best six rebounds.
Larry Alexander is the lone Yellow Jacket averaging double-digit scoring at 10.4 points per game for a team ranks last in the league in scoring average (58.9 ppg). Alexander ranks fifth in the conference with 49 three-pointers.
The men’s contest tips off at 3:30 pm following the conclusion of the women’s game that begins at 1:30 pm.
The first round of the PAC men’s tournament begins with the No. 8 seed hosting the No. 9 on Monday at 7:00 pm. Four quarterfinals games will then be hosted by the top four seeds on Tuesday.
The top eight teams in the women’s standings qualify for the women’s tournament with the top four seed hosting Tuesday quarterfinals. With a win Tuesday, Thomas More would host the semifinals (Friday) and championship (Saturday).