Copyright 2015; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Emma Matthews taken by Frank Stallworth.
NEWARK, Del. - - The Wilmington University women's basketball team opened the 2015-16 season by forcing Mercy into 31 turnovers and used a big third quarter to capture a 73-55 victory on Friday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
The season opening victory was the first for the Wildcats (1-0) since the 2008-09 season when the team went 18-12 overall.
The defensive pressure turned into 24 points for the Wildcats and they came away with 24 steals in the contest. Quick handed guards Jocelyn Rodriguez and Zameria Jones led the team with five steals each in the game.
The first half was tightly contested, as Mercy (0-1) carried the biggest lead in the first quarter at 13-10. Tenicia Spence tied the contest, 15-15, with a jumper with six seconds left, but the Mavericks' Deasia Goodson gave the visitors the 17-15 lead at the first break.
Another tightly played quarter took place in the second, with the biggest lead coming by the Mavericks at 20-16. Auryonah Nash tied the game at 22 with a jumper before Spence gave the Wildcats a brief lead with another jumper with 5:58 to play in the quarter. The Wildcats took their biggest lead of the quarter with 3:25 to play, as newcomer Emma Matthews sank a three-pointer at 27-24. The Mavericks scored the final three points of the half to tie the match, however, tying the game, 29-29, at the halftime break.
The Wildcats took over in the third quarter, scoring the first six-points of the third quarter by getting back-to-back layups from Macy Robinson and a jumper from Rodriguez. Another 8-0 run turned a 39-33 advantage into a 47-33 lead for the Wildcats, as Jones started the run with a pair of free throws. Robinson converted a steal into a fastbreak layup and Matthews finished off the run with a pair from the line and another layup after a turnover. The Wildcats outscored the Mavericks, 18-6, in the third quarter.
A 6-0 spurt early in the fourth allowed the Wildcats to cruise in the final quarter, as Robinson hit a three-pointer before Jones laid one in with 9:03 to play. Rodriguez finished off the run by making the first of two from the foul line. Robinson put the Wildcats up 64-45 with a traditional three-point play, driving the lane for the layup and foul. Spence gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 67-45, with 4:14 left in regulation before the Wildcats settled for the 73-55 final score.
The Wildcats finished with four players in double figures, led by Matthews' 17 points off the bench. She hit 3-of-7 from three-point land, shooting 4-of-7 from the floor in the first half. Jones finished with 16 points off the bench while Spence added 14 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Robinson was the final Wildcat in double digits, chipping in with 12 points, eight rebounds, and four steals.
Rodriguez filled the stat sheet with seven points, nine rebounds, five assists, five steals, and only one turnover in the match. Jones also added five assists and dive steals in the game for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats are back in action on Saturday to finish out the CACC-ECC Challenge, as they host Molloy at the WU Athletics Complex at 6 p.m.