At 3-0, the women’s basketball team has already earned a great deal of respect in the basketball world. While preseason polls predominantly disregarded UR as one of the top Div. III teams in the country, the Yellowackets have knocked off three talented teams enroute to being ranked as the No. 18 Div. III team in the country by www. d3hoops.com.

UR started its season off with a bang winning the annual Chuck Resler Tip-Off tournament at the Louis Alexander Palestra the weekend of Nov. 16.

This year’s tournament featured a highly competitive field including Ithaca College, Framingham State College and the University of Scranton.

In the first round, senior guard and co-captain Jen LaBuda led UR to a 68-60 victory with 14 points.

Three other Yellowjackets hit double figures, with sophomore forward Shannon Higgins recording 11 points and seven rebounds, while senior forward Anne Gotstein had 10 points to go with six rebounds, and sophomore guard Erika Smith had 10 points backed by six rebounds, five assists, and three steals.

In earlier tournament action, Scranton solidly defeated Framingham State 91-65, setting up the Championship game.

Pre-season polls by www.d3hoops.com had ranked Scranton at No. 14 in the nation with 238 votes, while ignoring UR with only seven votes.

UR was up to the challenge and it held the Royals to just 26 percent shooting from the field and with an impressive defensive effort the Yellowjackets scored a 61-52 upset over one of the nation’s most highly respected programs.

Tournament MVP freshman forward Kelly Wescott finished with 12 points, including six clutch free throws in the final 94 seconds of game play.

Other standout performers included Higgins, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, and sophomore forward Tanika Murphy, who pulled down seven rebounds and scored four points in nine minutes off the bench.

LaBuda finished the game with eight points, and was recognized for her efforts as part of the all-tournament team. With two wins under their belt, UR entered Nazareth’s Kidera Gymnasium Nov. 20 ready to continue its winning ways. In a rematch of last year’s ECAC Final, the Yellowjackets reminded the Golden Flyers of the sting of defeat, as they once again emerged victorious with a resounding 73-43 win.

UR seized control early and never looked back.

LaBuda once again led UR in scoring, with a game-high 12 points. Smith had six points to go with six rebounds and four steals, while Higgins added six points, two assists and three steals.

In her first action of the season, freshman guard Hallie Frederick had a game-high five assists.

At 3-0, UR’s impressive start was recognized in the most recent rankings by d3hoops.com.

The Yellowjackets have catapulted into the No. 18 spot with 163 votes, while Scranton rose to No. 13 after defeating the previously ranked No. 1 team in the country Messiah College.

“I think all of our games so far have been great team wins,” LaBuda said. “Everyone on the team is contributing.”

“Each year, we have improved,” she continued. “This year will be no different.”

The Yellowjackets will open up conference play this Saturday, Dec. 1, as they host the Tartans of Carnegie Mellon University at the Palestra.

They will round out their University Athletic Association weekend with a 2 p.m. start against the Emory Eagles.

The weekend will give UR an opportunity to avenge three losses in four games against Emory and CMU last year.

While UR split two decisions with CMU last year with a 66-61 victory at home and a 58-53 loss on the road, they fell twice to Emory by scores of 71-58 and 75-69.

Carnegie stands at 4-1 after winning both of their opening tournaments, while Emory enters this weekend’s competition at 1-2.

Both teams are led by standout performers who have been recognized as the UAA’s first two players of the week in women’s basketball for the 2001-2002 season.

Junior forward Erin Brady of Emory was named MVP of both of the Tartan’s opening tournaments, while sophomore guard Beth Byron is averaging an impressive 23.6 points per game behind .587 shooting from the floor.

Seferiadis can be reached at jseferiadis@campustimes.org.



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