February 20, 2013

Fords fall short in bid for return trip to conference semifinals

BALTIMORE, Md. - A late rally by the Haverford College women's basketball team came up short as the visiting Fords fell to Johns Hopkins University, 64-59, in the opening round of the Centennial Conference playoffs Wednesday night.

Trailing by five with two minutes remaining in the contest, the fifth-seeded Fords (15-10) did not go away quietly in their bid to return to the conference semifinals as Calla Miller drilled two foul shots after a Haverford timeout and Dominique Meeks, the program record holder in steals, rose to the occasion as she stole the ball out front from Jessica Brown. Meeks went the length of the floor to convert the fast break and bring the Fords within one, 60-59, with 1:21 on the clock.

Feeling the push from the visitors, the fourth-seeded Blue Jays (16-10) called a timeout and Maggie Fruehan's foul-line jumper restored Johns Hopkins' three-point cushion, 62-59. Elizabeth Lynch's attempt to tie from the wing was off the mark at the 35-second mark and the Fords were forced to foul.

Liz Tommasi came up empty on the ensuing free throws with 24 seconds to go in the contest and Meeks corralled the rebound to provide Haverford with another opportunity to make a comeback.

Coming out of a timeout, Jacquelyne Pizzuto looked for a tie with a three-pointer from the top of the key but Fatu Conteh managed to get a piece of it and grab the rebound. The Fords fouled instantly and Conteh, shooting just 53 percent from the foul line going into the contest, sunk both, after one last timeout by Haverford, to seal the victory.

The opening 20 minutes of the game saw the Blue Jays move out to a 17-11 advantage with 8:20 remaining until the intermission. Undismayed by the opening surge from the hosts, the Fords turned up the defense and outscored Johns Hopkins 13-1 over the final seven minutes of the half. A deep three from Pizzuto at the top of the key initiated the run with 5:04 on the clock. Four different players tallied points in the stretch that provided Haverford with an eight-point advantage at the break, 29-21.

Aiding the late first-half run was a stellar defensive effort from the Fords to close the opening stanza. Haverford pressured the Blue Jays into six turnovers in the those final seven minutes while limiting Johns Hopkins to just four attempts from the field. The lone point for the Blue Jays came courtesy of Stacy Fairey at the 13-second mark.

The Fords quickly extended their lead to 11, 34-23, as they scored five of the first seven points after the break. Responding with a run of its own, Johns Hopkins moved within five at 14:48 before four straight points from Voith pushed the Haverford lead back to nine, 40-31, with 14 minutes remaining in the contest.

Finding themselves in the bonus early in the second half, the Blue Jays chipped away at the Fords' lead from the free throw line and went ahead, 41-40, on a Vassila layup at 9:20.

Lynch and Tomassi exchanged three-pointers in the next two possessions before another bomb from Lynch put Haverford back on top, 46-44, with 8:23 left in the game.

Breaking a 48-48 tie, Brown's three-pointer at 4:50 accounted for the final lead change of the night.

In the final outing of her accomplished career, Meeks paced the Fords with 16 points and seven rebounds. Ranking first in program history in steals, Meeks also graduates second in points and rebounds.

Miller and Lynch added 10 points apiece while Pizzuto contributed nine points and four assists.

Vassila led Johns Hopkins with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Tommasi (14) and Brown (10) also hit double figures in the scoring column.

The end of the season also brings the careers of Miller and Victoria Sobocinski to conclusion. Miller, Sobocinski and Meeks helped Haverford ascend in the Centennial Conference standings over the course of their four years in the program. The trio was also instrumental in the Fords securing the first two playoff berths in program history in their junior and senior campaigns.

The Blue Jays move on to face host Gettysburg College on Friday night at 6 p.m. while the other semifinal, beginning at 8 p.m., will feature Swarthmore College and Muhlenberg College.