Ashland, Va. – The Catholic University of America nationally-ranked women's basketball team dropped their season opener, 79-75 to Randolph-Macon in the first game of the Randolph-Macon Tipoff Tournament.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has implemented new rules and guidelines for the 2015-16 women's basketball season, including breaking the game into four periods and giving teams the double-bonus opportunity after five fouls.
The Cardinals and Yellow Jackets played the four, ten minutes, periods neck-and-neck until the final two minutes when RMC pulled ahead for the season opening victory. Although the Lady Cards outscored the Jackets in both the second and third quarter, the Jackets took control of the first and fourth, coming out on top at the final buzzer.
Jayni Webster opened her senior campaign with a three point basket for the Lady Cards assisted by junior Michelle DeSantis 42 seconds into the game, giving Catholic the first points of the contest. The Yellow Jackets went on a six point run before the Cards were able to find the net again. Webster tied the game a six points apiece in the fifth minute, then again at nines in the sixth minute.
Catholic junior Melissa Errico sunk two free throws and a layup in the first ten minutes. DeSantis made back-to-back three-point shots in the final 90 seconds of the period but the Jackets notched 20 points giving the home squad a 20-16 advantage before the first break.
RCM kept a close lead on CUA through most of the second period. With a completed free throw from Catholic junior Bernadette Launi in the 14th minute, the scoreboard read 25-25. Errico kept the Lady Cards in the game tying the contest at 27 apiece in the 15th minute and again at 29 in the 16th minute. CUA senior Kristen Walheim sank a shot to go-ahead 31-29 with 2:58 remaining in the half. RCM and CUA when shot for shot in the final three minutes and headed into the halftime intermission tied at 37.
DeSantis started off the second half with a layup giving the Lady Cards the advantage. Seniors Josephine Migash and Walheim followed with layups to maintain the CUA lead. The contest remained tight as the Cardinals outscore the Yellow Jackets 19-18, holding a one point advantage going into the final period.
Catholic maintained the lead for the majority of the fourth period but the Jackets stayed within arm's length of the victory. With a 71-71 tie and 2:01 left on the game clock Yellow Jackets, sunk eight of ten free throw attempts while the Cardinals notched two layups, ultimately giving the home team a 79-75 lead at the final buzzer.
DeSantis went six for 12 from the field with five assists during the season opening contest while Errico pulled down 16 rebounds and shot 11 for 23 field goals and grabbed two steals. Collectively the Lady Cardinals shot 75% from behind the free throw line.
No. 16 Catholic will continue the Randolph-Macon Tipoff Tournament as they match up against Ferrum College at 2 p.m., on Saturday, November 14.