WILMINGTON — No. 4 Thomas More escaped Hermann Court Wednesday with a 61-59 win over Wilmington College in the championship game of the 11th annual Fred Raizk Memorial Tournament at Fred Raizk Arena.
The win puts the Saints at 9-0 on the year. The loss leaves the WC women at 7-3, with all 3 losses to ranked, unbeaten opponents.
“Like I told them, we’ve lost 3 games this year to 3 teams that haven’t lost a game between them,” WC head coach Jerry Scheve said. “We’re playing a tough schedule to get us ready for the second half of this year. If this game doesn’t get us ready, I don’t know what will.”
Wilmington’s previous 2 losses were to No. 12 Carnegie Mellon, 63-56, and to No. 17 Ohio Northern, 78-51.
Thomas More’s Nikki Kiernan was the tournament MVP. She finished the title game with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 assists. Abby Owings led TMC with 16 points and 5 steals.
Mackenzie Campbell had 14 to top the WC scoring chart with Brittaney Jefferson adding 13. Ja’Cole Tabor came off the bench to pour in 11 points on 5 of 8 shooting.
Wilmington struggled mightily to shoot the ball with any accuracy, especially early in the game. WC was 8 for 32 from the floor in the first half.
“I’m not sure what happened in the first half,” Scheve said. “I know we couldn’t make shots. But I was upset with more than that. I don’t think we played with any confidence in ourselves.”
Tabor, who drained a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to make it 37-19 Thomas More, said the final basket of the half put a little bit of the fight back in Fightin’ Quakers.
“I think it gave my teammates some juice,” Tabor said of the basket. “I didn’t think it was going in. I think it gave my team a boost of confidence.”
Down 18 to the defending national champions at halftime, Tabor knew there were only 2 options her squad.
“We told ourselves either we’re going to lay down and die pretty much, or are we going to go out there and kick their butts, fight,” she said.
And fight they did.
The WC deficit grew to 42-22 before a 10-2 run made it a game again. Campbell, Morgan Ritz and Tabor converted easy baskets and Jefferson buried a 3-pointer, 44-32. The Quakers kept chipping away and the shots for Thomas More that were falling in the first half were now hitting plenty of iron but no twine. The Saints went from 13-26 shooting in the first half to 9-39 shooting in the second half.
“We completely turned it around in the second half,” Scheve said.
Campbell — held to just 2 points in the first half — ended the third quarter with a defensive block but Wilmington still trailed by 9 at 46-37. Campbell’s effort play continued when she took her own miss — a block by Kiernan — and converted it into a basket. Her free throws later made it a 46-41 game.
Tabor had a smart defensive play to force a held ball and then took a long bounce pass from Ashley Andracki for an easy bucket and the TMC lead was down to 53-49 with 2:42 to play.
Kylie Kramer of Thomas More swished a couple of runners in the lane to keep WC at arm’s length. But Campbell had a drive and dish to Andracki who calmly sank a 3-pointer to get WC within 56-54 with 55 seconds left in the fourth.
Kiernan then dropped in a left-handed shot to push it back to a 4-point game. Campbell pulled off a balancing act to drop in 2 for a 58-56 game. After a Wilmington turnover on an offensive foul, Savannah Hooper, held scoreless on 3 shots, helped the Quakers get the ball back when she made a play on the ensuring inbound pass.
Jefferson then made 1 of 2 free throws with 11.8 seconds to play for a 59-57 deficit. Thomas More’s Madison Temple canned a couple from the free throw line with 7.7 seconds to go that effectively ended the WC comeback attempt.
“I’m proud of how we fought back in the second half against a really, really quality team,” Scheve said.
December 21, 2016
@Fred Raizk Arena
Thomas More 61 Wilmington 59
(59) WILMINGTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Harman 1-0-0-2 Moyer 1-0-0-2 Jefferson 4-1-4-13 Andracki 3-3-1-10 Campbell 5-0-4-14 Hooper 0-0-0-0 Ritz 1-0-2-4 Smith 1-0-1-3 Tabor 5-1-0-11 Arling 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 21-5-12-59
(61) THOMAS MORE (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Paul 4-0-1-9 Kiernan 3-0-5-11 Ware 2-0-2-6 Owings 5-2-4-16 Temple 2-1-2-7 Kramer 3-0-0-6 McDonald 0-0-0-0 Rupp 2-0-0-4 Schultz 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 22-3-14-61
FIELD GOALS: TMC 22-65 (Owings 5-20 Paul 4-9); WC 21-64 (Tabor 5-8 Campbell 5-14 Jefferson 4-17 Andracki 3-6)
3 PT FIELD GOALS: TMC 3-13 (Owings 2-6); WC 5-19 (Andracki 3-4 Jefferson 1-6)
FREE THROWS: TMC 14-18 (Kiernan 5-5); WC 12-20 (Campbell 4-6 Jefferson 4-7 Ritz 2-2)
REBOUNDS: TMC-40 (Paul 9 Kiernan 6); WC-51 (Moyer 12 Campbell 7 Harman 5 Jefferson 4 Tabor 4 Andracki 4 Smith 3 Ritz 2 Hooper 2)
ASSISTS: TMC-9 (Temple 3 Kiernan 2); WC-10 (Tabor 3 Moyer 3 Andracki 2)
STEALS: TMC-8 (Owings 5); WC-8 (Jefferson 3 Andracki 2)
BLOCKED SHOTS: TMC-6 (Kiernan 4); WC-4 (Tabor 2)
TURNOVERS: TMC-14; WC-17