CUA uses second-half run to down Royals in season opener

LANCASTER, Pa. – The CUA women's basketball team got its season off to a strong start with an 81-77 victory over Eastern Mennonite on Friday afternoon at the Terry Greene Memorial on the campus of Franklin & Marshall.  Three Cardinals hit for double figures in the win, led by sophomore Jill Woerner with 18.

CUA was comfortably in front 70-55 with 7:39 to play, but from there, Eastern Mennonite unleashed a furious rally to close to within 79-77 with 30 seconds to play.  The Cardinals then called a timeout to regroup and following the stoppage Jenny McGann was fouled by Marla Young, sending the CUA sophomore to the charity stripe. 

McGann stepped to the line, but missed both attempts and EMU's Sara Lamneck came down with the rebound off the second shot.  Emily Grabiak poked the ball away from Lamneck though and stole it, forcing another foul by the Royals. 

Grabiak then sank one of two, and another free throw by Woerner with seven seconds to go sealed the season-opening win for the Cardinals.

Joining Woerner in double figures for CUA were McGann with 15, freshman Liz Briones with 11 and Katarina Owunna with 10.  Woerner also pulled down 11 rebounds for the double-double, while Kerri Confrey handed out a team-high five assists.

As a team the Cardinals shot 50-percent from the field, including a 58-percent clip in the second half, but they struggled all day at the foul line, making only 15 of 33 attempts (45.5%).

EMU was led by Danielle Rittenhouse with 16 points, while Stephanie Rheinheimer and Kala Yoders netted 14 points apiece.  The Royals shot just 39-percent from the floor and turned the ball over 28 times.

CUA found itself in a 14-5 hole in the early going, but quickly got itself back in the game with a 14-4 run capped by Briones' bucket at the 9:50 mark, which put the Cardinals on top for the first time, 19-18.

Another layup by Briones, this one coming at the 8:11 mark, gave CUA a 25-21 advantage, but EMU ran off the next four points to tie things at 25.

With under two to go in the opening half, the Royals sank four straight free throws to take a 40-37 lead. 

A McGann free throw and Brielle Crites layup sandwiched around two more EMU foul shots brought CUA to within 42-40, but Bianca Ygarza scored for Eastern Mennonite with 32 seconds remaining to send the teams into halftime with the Cardinals trailing 44-40.

CUA ripped off the first six points of the second stanza in a span of just 1:24 to surge in front 46-44, but Kori Penick answered down the other end for the Royals to tie things at 46.

The Cardinals then responded with an 8-0 run of their own as they opened up a 54-46 lead, but again EMU came back, this time with five straight to pull to within 54-51. 

Shandell Taylor's three-pointer at the 12:46 mark cut CUA's lead to just one, 55-54, but from there the Cardinals unleashed a 15-1 run to take a commanding 70-55 lead with 7:39 on the clock.  EMU chipped away at the deficit and eventually made it a two-point game, but CUA made enough plays down the stretch to hold on.

CUA will be back in action on Saturday when the Cardinals take on the winner of the Franklin & Marshall-Elizabethtown game at 6:00 in the championship of the Terry Greene Memorial in Lancaster.

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