SWARTHMORE, Pa. – In one historic night, Toni Suler rewrote the record books and carried the Ursinus College women's basketball team one step closer to the Centennial Conference playoffs.
Suler notched the first triple-double in school history and set both single-season program and single-game conference records for blocked shots as the Bears (13-10, 11-7) won their fifth straight game, grinding out a 51-33 decision at Swarthmore behind a record-breaking defensive effort of its own. Ursinus stymied the Garnet to 16.4-percent shooting (10 for 61), a school record for field-goal percentage defense in a single game.
Though the Bears stayed in line for the fifth seed in the CC championship tournament, Suler's never-before-seen numbers were the story. The freshman scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to go with 11 blocks, which eclipsed the previous CC record of 10 and gave her 91 for the season, bettering Lauren Dorsey's 20-year school mark of 83 with one singularly dominant performance. If that weren't enough, Suler added four assists and three steals to her stat line.
Junior Rachel Guy pitched in 12 points, freshman Lydia Konstanzer had nine, and sophomore Kaci McNeave paired a career-high eight rebounds with six points for Ursinus, which continued its remarkable streak of impenetrable defense. The Bears have held their last four opponents to an average of 36.3 points and 22.2 percent shooting. Ursinus shot just 28.1 percent itself (18 for 64), but it hardly mattered.
The Bears came away with points on their first four possessions and started the game on a 9-0 run, much of it fueled by second-chance opportunities. McNeave's opening 3-pointer came after a pair of offensive rebounds, and senior Libby Lannon put back her own miss on the next trip. Suler's sweeping lay-up extended the lead, and two free throws by the freshman capped the burst. Swarthmore, meanwhile, missed its first nine shots and did not dent the scoreboard until the 3:44 mark of the first quarter.
Suler was a force on both ends of the floor from the opening tip, racking up six points, five rebounds, and three blocks in the first quarter alone. The freshman's first record-setting rejection (the single-season school mark) came at the 5:07 mark of the second quarter, when she stuffed a shot by Lindsay O'Sullivan to stamp her name into the record books.
Suler's five swats were a big reason why the Garnet (2-19, 2-14) shot a measly 4 for 30 (13.3 percent) from the field in the first half. Despite Swarthmore's struggles, the home side never trailed by more than ten thanks to a perfect 8-for-8 at the free-throw line. Ursinus' lead at the break was 24-16, and the spread could have been much tighter if not for buzzer-beaters at the end of each quarter; Konstanzer drained her first career 3-pointer to end the first, and Lannon's lay-up on a quick feed from Guy came just before the second-quarter horn.
The third quarter began much like the first, with a 3-pointer by McNeave and two blocks by Suler on the same Swarthmore possession. While the Garnet missed their first 12 attempts, Ursinus still struggled to break away until the final minute of the period. A deep two by Guy started a 6-0 run to end the frame, which she continued with a breakaway lay-in. Suler's steal set up Konstanzer's fast-break bucket, another one just before the buzzer, and the Bears were off and running with a 37-21 lead.
With the game in hand, the only drama was how much history Suler would make. The final two dominoes fell in quick succession, as she secured the triple-double with a basket at the 4:17 mark of the fourth and broke the CC single-game blocks record just 13 seconds later.
With the victory, Ursinus swept Swarthmore for the second straight season and stayed in the driver's seat for fifth place in the conference playoff chase. With just two games to play, the Bears (11-7) are two up on McDaniel and Johns Hopkins (both 9-7) in the win column, though both squads have two games in hand on Ursinus. While Ursinus is off Thursday, the Green Terror are at F&M and Hopkins hosts first-place Haverford.
The Bears have two tough games remaining, starting with a Senior Day showdown against playoff-bound Dickinson on Saturday.
Freshman Toni Suler recorded the Bears' first-ever triple-double (13 pts, 14 reb, 11 blk), while breaking the Centennial Conference record for blocks in a game and establishing a new team record for blocks in a season during the win over Swarthmore on 2/7/17!