The UR women’s basketball team started off the season strong these past two weeks, beginning with an 83-69 win over Hamilton College on Nov. 21 in the opening round of the Chuck Relser Tournament, which the ‘Jackets hosted.

UR immediately took control, starting off with an 11-2 run, with six quick points from senior forward Julie Marriott and four from sophomore guard Melissa Alwardt. The ‘Jackets were up 33-13 at the half a start that set the pace for the rest of the game.

The second half was similar to the first, with UR dominating on both ends of the court. The ‘Jackets shot 47.3 percent from the field, compared to Hamilton’s 23.8 percent. They also forced 33 turnovers, off of which it scored 23 points.

Marriott and Alwardt stole the show on the offensive end. Marriott made nine of her 10 shots for a game-high 18 points, and Alwardt went five for nine for a total of 12 points. Freshman center Jodie Luther also saw some court time and chipped in seven points and five rebounds. Senior forward Alex Porter contributed with eight rebounds and five points.

In the championship game the following day, UR continued its winning ways against the Moravian College Greyhounds. This game did not start quite as smoothly for the ‘Jackets as the previous day’s contest Moravian jumped out to a 14-8 lead just six minutes into the game. But the Yellowjackets pulled it together, posting a 17-0 run that was ignited by eight quick points within a two-minute span by junior guard Jessica Mastronardi. UR later fought off a Greyhound comeback attempt and was up by nine at the half.

The momentum they acquired from their first-half run carried them through the second half. They shot 50 percent from the field and more than doubled their lead, finishing with a final score of 80-58. This was the third-consecutive year that UR has won the Chuck Resler Tournament.

Porter had an exceptional game all around, posting a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. She was named Most Valuable Player of the Tournament. Mastronardi received All-Tournament Team honors for her 16 points and five assists and also had a number of clutch plays. Alwardt sunk five 3-pointers and added 18 points. Marriott added 10 points and nine rebounds. Senior center Jess Waddell and sophomore guard Ariel Evans chipped in with six and five boards, respectively.

The team’s next matchup three days later proved to be more difficult. UR traveled to play the Medaille College Mavericks a team that was 4-0 entering the game and that has earned respect in recent years after winning its conference and making appearances in the NCAA tournament in each of the last four seasons.

UR struggled in the first half, shooting only 23.3 percent, and was trailing 23-30 at the half. The ‘Jackets stepped it up in the second half, however, fueled by 11-straight points by Marriott. UR earned the lead 4:46 minutes into the second half and kept it for the remainder of play.

The Mavericks fought back, going on an 11-2 rally led by guard Tiffany Sullivan’s six points to decrease the lead to just six with 3:32 left to play, but it wasn’t enough.

Mastronardi hit her third 3-pointer of the half off an inbound pass from senior Rachel Stern and drew a foul in the process. She made the free-throw attempt to stretch the lead to 57-47, sealing the deal for the ‘Jackets. The final score was 63-53.

Once again, Marriott led UR to victory, tallying a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Mastronardi finished with 12 points, all in the second half. Porter was big on the boards again with 10, and Waddell added six rebounds.

The ‘Jackets’ fourth contest against Oswego State University was hardly a competition. UR came out strong and was up 16-5 just five minutes into the first half a run that was fueled by a couple quick 3-pointers by Alwardt. The lead was stretched to 44-15 by the half, thanks to contributions from several players.

The ‘Jackets kept pushing into the second half. Sophomore guard Caroline Bernal-Silva entered the game, back from an injury, and scored seven points in just six minutes of court time.

Luther contributed her seven points all in the second half, while Evans had six of her eight after the break.

Porter had another big night, posting a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Alwardt had 11 points and eight assists for the win. Marriott chipped in with 11 points as well, and Mastronardi added eight.

Mastronardi has been especially big for the ‘Jackets so far this season. She suffered a torn ACL early last year and was unable to play for the duration of the season. Since her return to the court this year, she has averaged a little more than 10 points per game and has shot 43.8 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

‘I think that so far we have played well each game no matter who the opponent was,” Mastronardi said. ‘Some games we’ve played better than others but I am sure that we will keep improving and put together more complete games. We have high expectations for ourselves and expect to do big things this year.”

Last night, UR picked up its most recent win when it ousted Rochester Institute of Technology, 93-47.

It was a true team effort. Seven players scored in double digits, and Porter led all scorers with 21 points. Alwardt was close behind with 19 points, shooting 4-7 from behind the arc.

The ‘Jackets are now 5-0 but have a number of tough opponents coming up. They play Carnegie Mellon University on the road this upcoming week.

Hilliard is a member of the class of 2010.

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