Storm Set to Defend Women’s Hoops Championship
February 24, 2013
Only one North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) opponent solved the Keuka College women’s basketball team during the regular season, and that same opponent is all that stands between the Storm and a fifth NCAA tournament appearance in seven years.
Keuka (20-3), the champions of the NEAC North Division during the regular season, will play Lancaster Bible College (23-4), champions of the South Division, at 2 p.m. Sunday in the NEAC championship.
The winner of Sunday’s title game receives the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament. The Storm have qualified for NCAA’s in four of the last six years, and have won six of the eight NEAC postseason championships in the conference’s history.
Nine different Keuka student-athletes scored and six had seven or more points to lead the Storm to an 81-68 win over Penn State-Harrisburg inside the Horst Athletic Center on the campus of Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, Pa.
Junior Jessica Bandrowski (Center Moriches, NY/Center Moriches) scored 20 points with 4 rebounds and 4 assists and classmate Danielle Gravel (Sidney, NY/Sidney) added 13 points and five steals for the Storm, who won their 13th straight game against NEAC foes dating to the regular season.
Junior Casey Chamberlain (Perry, NY/Perry) added 11 points and four rebounds while classmate Taylor Szwec (Candor, NY/Candor) came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds with seven points and 5 assists in the win.
Senior Mariah Mouzon (Elmira, NY/Elmira Free Academy) added 12 points and six rebounds while sophomore Erica Pendrak (Utica, NY/New York Mills) chipped in 10 points and six rebounds for Keuka.
The Chargers opened up a 25-point lead during their semifinal en route to a 69-50 win over Wells College in the other semifinal. With the win, Lancaster advanced into its first-ever NEAC championship game.
Freshman Aubrey Folger, the NEAC’s Rookie of the Year, scored 24 points with 12 rebounds while first-team All-NEAC selection Lauren Heliger added 20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists as the Chargers won their ninth straight game.
Heliger (16.6 ppg., 5.1 rpg.) is Lancaster’s leading scorer and a solid three-point threat (33 percent on 3s) while Folger averages 16.1 ppg. and 9.2 rpg. for the Chargers.
Brooklyn Wilson averages 9.9 ppg. and leads the team in three-point percentage (33.6 percent) while Emily Lloyd (8.4 ppg., 6.6 rpg.) and Sarah Heilenman (9 ppg., 6.4 rpg.) are solid threats for a Lancaster team that outscored its opponents by a margin of 64.4 to 53.6 this year.
The Chargers posses the stingiest defense and the fourth-ranked offense, while Keuka ranks third in points allowed (60.3 ppg.) and scoring average (71.1 ppg.).
In their only matchup of the season, Lancaster Bible handed Keuka a 58-50 setback on Jan. 7.
Mouzon posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds and Bandrowski added 16 points, 5 assists and 5 steals, but the Storm, who led for most of the second half, lost after the Chargers closed out the game on a 12-4 run.
While the student-athletes on the Storm are the same ones who fell to the Chargers, Szwec thinks the team has matured and evolved as the season went on, and is better-equipped to handle the challenge presented by Lancaster Bible.
“Our depth is amazing, anyone can step up on any day,” said Szwec, who has been battling back from knee surgery.
“We don’t need just one player to score for us; all five starters are capable of scoring and we have a good bench, too. We’re a different team than the one that lost (to Lancaster) in January; we’re confident and playing very well as a team.”
In the semifinal win, four members of the Storm shot 50 percent or better from the field as Keuka connected on 50.8 percent of its shots (32-for-63). Leading the way was Chamberlain (4-for-5), Bandrowski (6-for-9), Mouzon (6-for-12) and Pendrak (5-for-10).
The Green and Gold outrebounded Harrisburg (18-9) 43-32.
“A win like this gives us a lot of confidence heading into the championship game. It really lets us know what we’re capable of it we play as a team,” Chamberlain said.
“We all knew we had to play our hardest today, because if we lost we went home, so we just went out and played the best we could.”