For the second consecutive season, the William Smith College basketball team defeated St. Lawrence University to win the Liberty League Championship and its accompanying automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. This season, the Herons used a dominating second half to post a 52-38 win.
The senior class paced William Smith’s winning effort. Forwards Seraphine Hamilton (The Peddie School/Trenton, N.J.) and Tanya Richvalsky (Mohawk/Mohawk, N.Y.) recorded 10 points apiece, while guard Pria Young (Council Rock/Richboro, Pa.) guided William Smith to a 40-27 advantage on the glass with a game-high 10 rebounds. Hamilton narrowly missed a double-double, collecting nine caroms.
Sophomore guard Kimberly Sikule (Berne-Knox-Westerlo/Westerlo, N.Y.) was the lone Saint in double digits with 10 points. Junior forward Andrea Muszynski (Mt. Mercy/Buffalo, N.Y.) added eight points and was one of three St. Lawrence players with a team-high five rebounds.
The first half was played in the Saints’ defense-first style. William Smith (21-5) trailed by as many as seven in the opening 11 minutes, but used a 10-2 run fueled by Hamilton (5 pts) to take a 19-18 edge into halftime.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the first half. The Herons shot just 33.3 percent, only marginally better than St. Lawrence (28.0%).
After passing the lead back-and-forth in the first five minutes, William Smith started to push the tempo and play their preferred high-pace game. Trailing 22-21, the Herons bought themselves some breathing room with a 10-2 run. Young keyed this surge with five of her seven points.
Junior guard Christie Herbst (Byram Hills/Armonk, N.Y.) hit a three for St. Lawrence (19-8) with 12:27 remaining to pull the Saints within four, but got no closer.
William Smith secured a double digit lead with three minutes remaining to secure the title. It’s the Herons’ 12th conference crown since 1991 and the team will make its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992.
The NCAA will announce the 63 teams selected to compete for the national championship on Feb. 26 at approximately 10 p.m. The first round pairings will not be revealed until Feb. 27 at 8 a.m.
Photo by Kevin Colton