Sunday, March 21, 2004

Wilmington wills its way to first title

Division III women's championship

By Alan Keck
Enquirer contributor

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Despite shooting only 29 percent from the field, Wilmington College (27-6) outhustled and out rebounded Bowdoin College (30-1) to claim the NCAA Division III women's basketball championship Saturday. It is the first national title for the Lady Quakers, who again followed their come-from-behind pattern, defeating the Polar Bears 59-53.

Bowdoin outshot Wilmington from the field, from the free-throw line and from 3-point range, but couldn't compete with the scrappy Lady Quakers on the glass.

Wilmington grabbed 23 offensive rebounds, while limiting Bowdoin to 10. Lady Quakers coach Jerry Scheve joked that if he had practice Monday, the girls would be running.

"We don't like to give up more than eight offensive rebounds," he said.

It was a humbling lesson for the Polar Bears.

"Wilmington just beat us," Bowdoin coach Stefanie Pemper said. "It was a little bit of luck, but mostly hard work, talent and good coaching."

Senior Tara Rausch and junior Siobhan Zerilla each snagged 11 rebounds, while forward Amy Kincer grabbed 10.

It almost wasn't enough.

Down by five at the half, Wilmington was behind by six with 4:30 to go.

But the Lady Quakers shook the house by launching a 16-4 run that Bowdoin just couldn't stop or answer.

It began when Emily Cummins nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing while being fouled by Bowdoin's Lora Trenkle.

Cummins sank the point-after for a four-point play.

Two minutes later, Rausch grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for two points while drawing a foul. She hit the free-throw to tie the game.

"You dream of moments like this," Rausch said.

Less than a minute later, freshman Samantha Hood nailed a 3-pointer from 25 feet to put Wilmington ahead for good. Rausch had a game-high 19 points in her last collegiate contest and was named tournament Most Valuable Player.

For Zerilla, the title is just a springboard into next season.

"No pressure," she said. "We have a lot of talent to build with."

Local players on the Wilmington College women's basketball team

NameYr.Pos.High School
Shawna ThomasSo.GMiddletown
Siobhan ZerillaJr.FMercy
Nicole KoenigSo.FMcAuley
Courtney BalserJr.GLittle Miami
Britni LakasFr.GMason
Brittney MorrisSr.G/FBethel-Tate
Abby NewhouseFr.FBoone County
Kristin McAlarneyFr.GMt. Notre Dame

WILMINGTON (27-6) - Zerilla 2-5 0-1 4, Kincer 3-16 4-6 10, Rausch 5-17 9-12 19, Hood 2-9 1-3 7, Cummins 3-8 1-1 9, Thomas 1-2 0-0 2, Peters 2-5 0-0 4, Smith 2-5 0-0 4, Eichner 0-1 0-0 0, Robinson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-68 15-23 59.

BOWDOIN (30-1) - Flaherty 7-14 0-0 14, Smith 2-8 1-2 5, Pouravelis 2-6 0-0 4, Russell 3-10 0-0 8, Trenkle 4-10 3-4 12, Withey 0-0 0-0 0, Bramwell 1-2 0-0 2, Fugate 2-3 0-0 6, Nickerson 1-5 0-0 2. Totals: 22-58 4-6 53.

Halftime: B 28, WC 23. 3-pointers: WC 4-14 (Kincer 0-2, Hood 2-4, Cummins 2-5, Thomas 0-1, Smith 0-1, Eichner 0-1), B 5-12 (Russell 2-7, Trenkle 1-2, Fugate 2-3). Rebounds: WC 51 (Zerilla 11, Rausch 11), B 38 (Pouravelis 12). Assists: WC 16 (Kincer 5), B 17 (Trenkle 8). Officials - Solis, Vera, Craun. Technical fouls - None. Attendance - N/A.

Tournament MVP: Tara Rausch (Wilmington).

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