SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – January 4, 2008 –Julie Haledjian scored a game-high 22 points and added a game-high five assists to lead her William Paterson University women’s basketball team to a 65-59 victory over Springfield College this afternoon at James Naismith Court at Springfield’s Blake Arena in the women’s consolation game of the Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic.
With the win, William Paterson raised its record to 8-3, while Springfield fell to 4-6. This is the 13th annual Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic on the women’s side, while it is the 21st annual on the men’s side. Game #2 this afternoon pits Drew versus Roger Williams in the men’s consolation game at 3 pm. Later today, it will be Bates versus Wesleyan in the women’s final at 5:30 pm, followed by Springfield versus Montclair State in the men’s final at 7:30 pm.
A sophomore guard from Montvale, N.J., Haledjian scored 14 of her 22 points in the second half, a half where William Paterson lost its lead just once. Also scoring in double figures for the Pioneers were sophomore guard Elisa Brown (Norwalk, Conn.) with 17 points (plus 4 assists and 3 steals), and junior forward Asia Johnson (Wildwood, N.J.) with 12 points (plus 10 rebounds). Reserve sophomore forward Erin Cook (Princeton, N.J.) scored 6 points and pulled down a team-high 13 rebounds.
For the home team, senior guard Tara McCarthy (Bristol, R.I.) led her squad with 19 points, including 13 in the first half. Junior center Lauren O’Connor (Valhalla, N.Y.) added 10 points and a Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic record and career-high 20 rebounds. The old record of 18 rebounds was held by Monica Gonzalez of Rutgers-Newark versus RPI on Jan. 4, 1996; by Sandy Hayn of RPI versus Rutgers-Newark in the very same game; and by Kacey Wunsch of Springfield versus Plattsburgh State on Jan. 2, 2005.
In the first half of this contest, it was Springfield that began like a proverbial house on fire, racing out to leads of 11-2 (with 16:44 left), then 23-11 with 12:36 left, the latter on a 3-pointer by McCarthy. But from that point, William Paterson outscored the Pride, 21-8. The Pioneers led only once in the half, and that came when Haledjian made a three-pointer with nine seconds left in the half. WPU made only 10 baskets in the half, but six of them were three-pointers. Springfield shot .414 (12-of-29), WPU just .278 (10-of-36) in that first stanza.
Senior guard Christine Cotter (Stoughton, Mass.) made a lay-up just six seconds into the second half, giving Springfield its last lead. One free throw by Asia Johnson with 18:05 left tied it at 33-all. Then a jumper by Haledjian with 17:31 gave WPU the lead for good. The 10-0 mini-run giving WPU a 42-33 lead with 12:30 left proved to be the decisive run.
When Brown made a 3-pointer with 10:21 left, the Pioneers had their largest lead (47-37). A conventional 3-point play by Haledjian with 6:16 left gave WPU an 8-point advantage (54-46). From there, Springfield cut it to four on five occasions, the last of which came with 14 seconds remaining (63-59). Two free throws by Haledjian with 11 seconds left gave the Pioneers their final margin.
Neither team shot well. Springfield shot .375 from the floor (21-of-56), while William Paterson shot just .268 (19-of-71). But the Pioneers made up for it in other areas, out-rebounding SC, 52-44. WPU also forced 22 Springfield turnovers, while committing only 14.
Haledjian for William Paterson and O’Connor for Springfield were named to the Holiday Inn/Naismith All-Tournament team.
Up next, Springfield will play at Wellesley next Tuesday (Jan. 9) in their New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference opener at 7 pm.