Hopkins women earn Division III NCAA bid

70-43 rout of Muhlenberg gives Jays Centennial title

February 27, 2000|By Bo Smolka | Bo Smolka,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Johns Hopkins picked the perfect time for its best start of the season.

With a Division III NCAA tournament bid hanging in the balance, the Blue Jays (21-5) bolted to a 19-8 lead and routed Muhlenberg, 70-43, in the Centennial Conference championship game last night in Goldfarb Gymnasium.

Katie Fitzgerald scored 15 points, and Marjahna Segers had 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead Johns Hopkins, which secured its second straight league title and sixth straight berth in the Division III NCAA tournament. The official tournament field will be announced later today.

The Blue Jays entered the game knowing that if they lost to the Mules -- as they had in the regular-season matchup -- an at-large bid to the NCAA field was questionable at best.

"We were highly motivated after the loss," Johns Hopkins coach Nancy Blank said, referring to a 62-51 setback at Muhlenberg on Feb. 5. "We knew it was do-or-die for us."

The sense of urgency showed at both ends of the court.

Offensively, the Blue Jays dominated the boards, out-rebounding Muhlenberg, 55-31. Sophomore Jennifer Butterwei (Spalding) had a career-high 12 rebounds, and the Blue Jays repeatedly scored on second and third chances.

"We've been struggling a lot on those little shots in the paint," Blank said. "We had much better composure on our put-backs today."

Hopkins also deflated the Mules by grabbing offensive rebounds, then kicking the ball out to the guards for three-pointers. Fitzgerald's 15 points came on 5-for-11 shooting from three-point range.

Defensively, the Blue Jays trapping defense caused Muhlenberg's offense to become unglued early. The Mules went seven minutes without a field goal midway through the first half, as Hopkins built a 19-8 lead with 10: 15 left. Muhlenberg committed 10 turnovers in the first half and 21 overall.

Muhlenberg didn't help itself at the free-throw line. The Mules came into the game with the league's best free-throw percentage (71.1), but made just one of eight attempts in the first half.

A three-pointer by Lindsay St. Lawrence cut the Hopkins lead to 21-13 with 7: 39 left in the half, but Hopkins scored the final 14 points of the half for a 35-13 halftime lead.

"That was definitely our best start of the season," Blank said.

Blank said she expected a second-half rally from Muhlenberg, which has faced Hopkins in the Centennial Conference final five years in a row.

That charge never materialized, though.

Muhlenberg cut the Blue Jays lead to 48-31 with 12: 12 left, but then endured another seven-minute scoreless stretch, during which the Hopkins lead swelled to 61-31.

Segers, who recorded her 13th double double of the season, said the Blue Jays may have taken Muhlenberg too lightly in the first meeting three weeks ago.

But this time, Segers said, "We came into this game fired up."

Said Blank: "Today we just put everything together."

MUHLENBURG -- Leahy 1-2 1-2 3, St. Lawrence 2-6 0-2 6, O'Neil 1-7 1-2 3, Risley 2-9 3-4 7, Baran 0-0 0-0 0, Uras 4-8 0-2 8, Schwartz 5-12 0-1 10, Drennan 0-2 1-4 1, Spengler 1-3 1-3 3, McKee 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 16-49 9-22 43.

JOHNS HOPKINS -- Dearburn 2-3 1-4 5, Butterwei 3-7 1-2 7, Ritter 2-11 2-4 7, Segers 6-8 1-5 13, Fitzgerald 5-11 0-1 15, Martin 2-5 0-0 4, Kincaid 0-2 0-0 0, Malloy 1-2 0-0 2, Edobor-Osula 0-1 0-0 0, Chrissy 0-1 0-0 0, Sumser 5-10 0-0 12, Hamilton 0-2 0-0 0, Perry 1-4 2-2 4. Totals 27-67 8-19 70.

Half--Johns Hopkins 35-13. Rebounds--M 31 (Risley 6); JH 55 (Butterwei 12). Assists--M 9 (Spengler 4); JH 17 (Ritter 8). A--225.

Pub Date: 2/27/00

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