The No. 20 William Smith College basketball team used a balanced scoring effort to defeat State University College at Brockport, 78-73, in the second round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament in Bristol Gym on Sunday, March 9. All five Heron starters reached double digits to send William Smith to its fifth Sweet 16.
The Herons (25-3) improved to 11-0 all-time on their home floor in the NCAA Tournament (15-10 overall in the NCAAs), and took a 7-2 series lead against Brockport.
The game was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but a power outage on campus forced the postponement to Sunday. With the electricity restored, William Smith came out energized, scoring the game’s first seven points. The Herons boosted their lead into double digits a short time later, using a 10-2 run to take a 24-10 lead with 11:40 to go in the first half.
The surge was capped by back-to-back three-point plays by senior forward Stephanie Czjakowski (Bishop Ludden/Syracuse, N.Y.) and junior guard Latasha Coney (Lyons/Lyons, N.Y.). Czajkowski used the traditional route, while Coney connected from downtown.
William Smith seized its largest lead of the game, 44-29, on a layup by sophomore forward Erin Cunningham (Morris Knolls/Rockaway, N.J.) 67 seconds before halftime. Senior guard Ashley Broadhurst (Utica Notre Dame/Sauquoit, N.Y.) cut the lead to 13 points with a pair of free throws 31 seconds later.
Broadhurst led all scorers at the break with 14 points on her way to a game-high 30. Czajkowski led three Herons in double digits with 11 on her way to a double-double (12 pts, game-high 10 rebounds).
William Smith shot 50 percent from the floor in the first stanza, while hitting all nine of its free throw attempts. Brockport (25-5) was limited to 39.3 percent and went 7-of-10 at the line.
In the second half, William Smith’s lead fluctuated between eight and 14 through the first 14 minutes. Broadhurst hit a three at the 5:52 mark to make it a seven-point game. Senior guard Marisa Vespa (Immaculate Heart/Watertown, N.Y.) answered with a three of her own to restore the 10-point lead, but Brenlyn Campbell (Lewiston-Porter/Williamsville, N.Y.) dialed long distance to make it 67-60.
That’s when graduate student guard Paula Foote (Sidney/Sidney, N.Y.) stepped up with two key defensive stands in the next two minutes. She came away with her only steal of the game at 4:19 and converted a layup 23 seconds later. Campbell got a layup of her own at 3:30 to make it a seven-point game again. Broadhurst lined up a three-pointer with 2:37 remaining, but Foote blocked the attempt, dove on the floor for the rebound and alertly called timeout before the Eagles could tie it up.
Broadhurst hit her fourth three of the night with 15 seconds to go to make it a 77-73 game, but Vespa hit the first of two free throws and Coney collected the rebound on the second to secure the win.
Vespa scored a team-high 25 points, tying William Smith game records for free throws made (12) and attempted (17). She also dished out a game-high eight assists and made a game-high three steals. Cunningham recorded 16 points, while Coney and Foote both produced 10 points and six rebounds.
Broadhurst hit all 10 of her free throw attempts in her game-high effort. Campbell contributed 16 points and six blocked shots, while senior guard Courtney Hines (Johnstown/Johnstown, N.Y.) added 14 points and a team-high four assists. Broadhurst was the only Brockport starter that did not foul out.
William Smith will face Oglethorpe (Ga.) University in Union, N.J., on Friday, March 14. The game is tentatively scheduled to tipoff at 5:30 p.m. The Herons and Petrels have never squared off on the basketball court.