When the NCAA Division III tournament pairings were announced Sunday, Johns Hopkins coach Nancy Blank did not hide her joy over the selection of Ursinus as the Blue Jays' first-round opponent.
After losing to Ursinus during the regular season and in the Centennial Conference tournament championship game, Blank said she wanted one more shot at the Bears.
And the Blue Jays made the most of it.
Senior guard Amy Dodrill scored 20 points and freshman guard Angie Arnold added 18 to lead host and third-seeded Johns Hopkins to a 77-67 victory over sixth-seeded Ursinus in an Atlantic Region game last night.
The Blue Jays (21-6) will play host to Montclair, a 77-68 winner over Elizabethtown, in a second-round game on Saturday.
Blank said a better rebounding effort -- Johns Hopkins outrebounded the Bears, 45-42 -- and more intensity on defense were the difference between last night's contest and the previous two.
"I knew we were close," said Blank, whose team lost to Ursinus by 74-70 and 78-70 this season. "Player for player, I think we match up well."
The teams -- who were both making their first tournament appearances -- traded baskets throughout the first half, with Johns Hopkins taking a 32-31 halftime lead on Julie Anderson's basket off a feed from Karen Hoffman as time expired.
After trailing briefly in the second half at 35-34, the Blue Jays opened a 42-37 lead.
Ursinus (21-5) rallied to tie at 42 on a three-pointer by Ellen Cosgrove (25 points) and again at 44 on a jumper by Steph Casperson (16 points, nine rebounds).
Johns Hopkins then went on a 16-3 run -- with Dodrill scoring eight -- to build a 60-47 advantage with 8:31 remaining.
Dodrill's three-pointer began the spurt and she also completed a three-point play and hit a jumper inside the key.
The Blue Jays led by at least eight and as many as 15 the rest of the way.
Ursinus had taken a 17-15 lead on Cosgrove's jumper and builts its biggest advantage to 30-23.
Hopkins played most of the second half without guard/forward Karen Hoffman, who went to the bench with a twisted ankle.
Before she left, Hoffman had five assists to set a school record for assists in a season (139). Her status for Saturday is uncertain.
While Blank used the two losses to the Bears as incentive, Ursinus coach Lisa Cornish was aware of the difficulty in defeating a team three times in a season.
Cornish also questioned the tournament selection committee's decision to seed the Blue Jays ahead of her team.
"Where was the justification?" she asked. "We beat them twice but didn't get home-court advantage. They went by strength of schedule, not head-to-head."