COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College women's basketball started fast but eventually fell prey to Franklin & Marshall's dominance on the glass as the Diplomats shook off a rough first four minutes and pulled out a 51-47 Centennial Conference victory in the Bears' home opener on Tuesday night.
Sarah Haddon and Sarosha Parsons combined for 31 points and 25 rebounds for F&M (1-3, 1-1), which rode a 48-32 rebounding advantage to grind out its first win of the season. Haddon produced 16 of her 18 points in the first half and added nine boards, while Parsons registered career highs of 13 points and 16 rebounds – eight of them offensive – as the Blue and White racked up 23 offensive caroms that led to 15 second-chance markers.
Junior Rachel Guy scored 10 of her team-high 16 points after halftime and sophomore Kaci McNeave chipped in 12 – all on triples – for Ursinus (2-3, 1-1). The Bears made things interesting late, cutting a 13-point lead down to six with a minute to play, but Sarah Haddon knocked down four consecutive free throws to keep F&M in the driver's seat.
The Diplomats took the lead for good midway through the second quarter, added to it just before halftime, and gradually maintained ample separation from there. It was a strong turnaround after the opening minutes, when it looked as if the Bears were poised to run away and hide.
Ursinus came out red-hot, making four of its first five shots and taking a quick 9-0 lead just over four minutes after tip-off. McNeave curled around a screen to bury a left-wing 3-pointer to make it 7-0, and Guy capped the opening spurt with a driving lay-up.
The Diplomats, however, had no plans to lie down. After missing its first six from the field, F&M connected on five straight and scored the next 12 points during a 17-2 burst and spanned the end of the first quarter. Haddon had nine points during the run, which culminated in a straightaway triple by Ashlyn Petersen.
Back came Ursinus, which seized the lead again at 19-18 after freshman Paulina Boyer canned a step-back trey from the right wing and Guy used a slick cross-over dribble to gain space for a drive down the left side of the lane. Haddon responded with three more baskets on the interior to send the Diplomats into the locker room with a 27-22 advantage. The senior had 16 points and six rebounds in the first half alone, going 7 for 14 from the field and adding a pair of blocks on the other end. A dozen offensive boards led to seven second-chance points for F&M before halftime.
The Bears got as close as four in the second half, first on a 3-pointer by McNeave that trimmed the spread to 31-27 midway through the third frame. F&M answered with a 7-0 run over the next four minutes, and ultimately went ahead by as many as 13 when Haley Pilone sandwiched a pair of buckets around a lay-up by Haddon to put the visitors up 46-33 with 4:42 remaining.
Ursinus applied some pressure down the stretch, with McNeave and sophomore Brielle Clarke hitting 3-pointers to get within 46-39. But the Bears were unable to overcome a couple of empty possessions and the Diplomats made enough free throws to close the deal.
Freshman Lydia Konstanzer finished with eight points - including a highlight-reel, coast-to-coast lay-up plus a foul at the third-quarter buzzer - and was one of four Bears with at least four rebounds. Classmate Toni Suler matched Guy for the team lead with five and tallied four assists, three steals, and a pair of blocks; she came in leading the CC and 4th in the nation in rejections. Freshman Paulina Boyer made a 3-pointer in the first half and notched two blocks.
The women's basketball team continues conference play on Thursday, December 1, at Bryn Mawr.