The UR women’s basketball team came out strong this past Saturday, snatching a 55-49 win over the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans at CMU’s Skibo Gymnasium. This victory gives the ‘Jackets an overall record of 20-5 and a 10-4 University Athletic Association mark. UR shares the second-place conference spot with Washington University in St. Louis. Both teams sit a game behind the University of Chicago Maroons, who have an 11-3 record in the UAA. With the title, the Maroons won an automatic pool A bid into the NCAA tournament, leaving UR, Wash U and Brandeis University to fight for a pool C bid.

UR was neck-and-neck with the Tartans for most of the first half. With 2:47 left to go in the first half, the ‘Jackets pulled ahead, 22-18, thanks to a jumper by freshman forward Courtney Donovan. UR was able to keep the lead for the rest of the half and went into halftime leading CMU, 26-20.

The ‘Jackets came out strong in the second half and led by eight points at the 17:40 mark. UR kept the lead for the majority of the half, until the Tartans made one last effort late in the game that put them within two points with 1:21 left in regulation. The Yellowjackets showed their resilience, however, and finished the game strong. Freshman guard Melissa Alwardt was key, sinking four straight free throws in the last 21 seconds. Her run solidified the win.

Junior forward Julie Marriott led all players in points, tallying 15, while going five for nine from the floor and five for seven from the line. She also dominated under the basket and added seven rebounds. Marriott is ninth in the UAA standings for scoring with 301 points on the season.

Junior guard Helen Baroody also had a very impressive game, scoring 12 points, six of which came from 3-pointers. For the year, Baroody finished 16th in the UAA for scoring with 236 points, and third in 3-pointers, making 41. On Saturday, she was all over the court, contributing two blocks, two steals and two rebounds. Senior forward Jessica Waddell added seven points, three rebounds and a steal in the victory.

Junior forward Alex Porter is fourth in the UAA standings in rebounds, averaging 7.7 per game, and third in steals with 57. Alwardt’s 39 3-pointers puts her in eighth place in the conference for overall 3-pointers made. Donovan holds the No. 1 spot for shots blocked with 35 – an average of 1.4 per game.

As a team, UR did very well in the UAA standings. It was No. 1 in offensive rebounds, blocked shots, assists and steals. It also finished second in points allowed and third in points scored.

Overall, the ‘Jackets had an incredible season, but the real test will be if they can stay strong for a few more weeks and pull out some wins in the NCAA tournament. The Yellowjackets are one of the 21 pool C selections in a field of 63 total teams. Four UAA teams received invitations to the NCAA tournament, including Chicago, Brandeis, Wash U and UR. Bowdin College, Medaille College – who won the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament – and William Smith College – all of whom the ‘Jackets have played this season – have also been invited to the tournament.

UR has been a frequent competitor in the NCAA tournaments, making it all the way to the Sweet 16 in both 2006 and 2007. Unfortunately, losses to the University of Scranton in 2006 and Bowdin in 2007 stopped the ‘Jackets from reaching the Elite 8.

With the strong team that the ‘Jackets have put together this year, they will look to break into the final field of eight teams and continue deeper into tournament play.

Hamilton is a member of the class of 2011.

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