INSTITUTE, W.Va. - - The Wilmington University women's basketball team had an overall game for the ages while defeating West Virginia State, 73-66, as eight single game records were tied or challenged to open the Toys for Tots Holiday Tournament on Friday night in Fleming Hall.
The Wildcats (3-7 overall) led wire-to-wire to snap a two-game losing skid and advance to Saturday's Tournament Championship game starting at 5:30 p.m. The team will take on St. Augustine which defeated Ursuline, 74-65, following the Wildcats' victory. Host West Virginia State (6-3 overall) received a double-double from Shealyn Shafer but couldn't stop the Wildcats' Tenicia Spence.
The sophomore helped the Wildcats' bench outscore the Yellow Jackets' reserves, 52-17, scoring 34 points on her own while shooting 14-of-26 from the floor, including 6-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc.
Spence's 34 points is tied for third most in a single game in the program's NCAA era (since 2004-05 season). The last time a Wildcat student-athlete scored 34 points was on February 27, 2010 when Amelia Simmons scored that many against Georgian Court. Simmons also holds the single-game program record with 37 points.
Spence's six three-point field goals tied for the fourth most three-point field goals made in a single game, while her accuracy from deep tied the all-time program record at 75 percent with at least six made. She went 6-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc, tying her with Danielle Thomas who also went 6-for-8 at Holy Family on November 20, 2012,
Continuing on the field goal trend, Spence's 14 made field goals was the fourth most in program history. She tied Simmons who poured in 14 against Georgian Court on January 30, 2007. Simmons also holds that mark with 16 field goals at Columbia Union on November 18, 2006.
Wilmington ran out to as large as an 11 point lead in the first half, first with 4:49 left after Jasmine Lee completed a 15-6 stretch. The Wildcats also held a 37-26 lead with 1:33 remaining following a Tiaja Harrold layup. The Wildcats went into the halftime break up 37-30 after the Yellow Jackets scored the final four points before the halftime buzzer.
Jocelyn Rodriguez gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the game at 65-51 with 4:35 remaining in regulation after the freshman finished off a 9-1 spurt to go up 14 points. They also went up 73-59 with 1:39 to play before the Yellow Jackets scored the final seven points of the game to settle on the final 73-66.
Defense was key for the Wildcats in the victory as they forced the Yellow Jackets into 24 turnovers, swatted nine shot attempts and came away with 17 steals.
The nine blocked shots tied a program record for a single contest, having done so on four other occasions. The last time the Wildcats denied nine shot attempts came on January 18, 2007 at Bloomfield.
Senior Allison McDonald had a big say in those nine blocked shots, as she tied a single game record with seven blocked shots. She tied Nordia Henry's record that stood since December 4, 2004 when the Wildcats faced Nyack.
The 17 steals tied for the fifth most in a single game with the record being 20 steals which occurred on January 6, 2009 at Goldey-Beacom.
Junior Jennifer Carr had a hand in the team's 17 steals, swiping eight on her own which also tied a program record. The last time a Wildcat recorded eight steals was on February 10, 2005 against Georgian Court by Andrea Jones.
Spence was the only Wildcat to reach double figures while Harrold finished with nine points and Rodriguez tallied eight. Rodriguez also record a game high eight assists in the win. McDonald finished with a team high eight rebounds, four of which came on the offensive glass.