HAMBURG, N.Y. – Powered by a program record 64 total rebounds, the Wells College women's basketball team posted a season-opening 58-45 victory over the Hawks of Hilbert College Thursday evening at the Hafner Recreation Center. With the victory, the Express open their season 1-0 for the second time in program history. With the non-conference loss, the Hawks drop to 0-1 overall on the young season.
With the Express trailing by a 13-11 margin in the early minutes of the game, a foul shot by junior Ashley Roser (Taberg, N.Y.) preceded a layup by senior Paige Stone (Madison, N.Y.) which then sparked four-straight free throw conversions for the Express to capture an 18-13 advantage with time ticking down in the first half.
The Wells College bench was then able to build a larger advantage going into halftime. Another Stone layup set the table for a Brooke Benedetto (Williamstown, N.Y.) jump shot to extend the Wells lead to 22-16 with only 2:29 remaining in the half. In the first 20 minutes, the Express bench was directly responsible for six of the team's 22 points, four of them coming within the final five minutes of the first stanza.
With both teams trading several points within the first minute of the half, the Express rattled off the game's next five points via a Cassie Smythe (Eden, N.Y.) three-point basket only 1:10 into the half and two free throws by freshman Lindsay Achzet (Johnstown, N.Y.) to extend the Wells lead to 29-21 with 18:23 remaining in the half, creating an eight point margin. However, the Hawks were able to climb their way back into the contest across the next 10-plus minutes, cutting the deficit to two points with 5:59. A Jessica Jamison jump shot with just under six minutes remaining in regulation reduced the Express lead to only two points.
The next six points by the Express effectively silenced any chance of a Hilbert comeback. A lay-up by freshman Holli Erkson (Cooperstown, N.Y.) preceded an additional layup by Achzet, extending the Express lead to six. Two Express free throws with 4:56 further widened the gap to 47-39 and later culminated in a 52-45 lead for the Express with only 2:26 remaining. Following a Natalie Whitman layup at that time, the Express did not allow an opposing basket for the remainder of the contest to secure their first victory of the year.
Cumulatively, Roser led the team with 16 points, eight of those coming from the free throw line. In addition to pulling down 26 total boards, Roser also led the team with four blocks to her credit. In her first collegiate contest, Erkson ranked second on the team with 15 cumulative points, going 7-for-11 from the charity stripe and draining four field goals. Also in her first collegiate action, Smythe picked up 10 points with four field goals of her own and the team's lone three point basket in the first half.
With 64 total rebounds, the Express were able to capitalize and convert their second chance opportunities for 15 total points. The program record entering this evening's game was 62 boards, set against Penn State Berks on Feb. 13, 2011. Additionally, the Express saw 10 points from their bench in this evening's tilt. Hilbert took advantage of several Express turnovers, scoring 20 of their 25 points off of Wells College miscues.
For the Hawks, Whitman was the lone player to reach double-digit point totals, converting 3-of-10 field goals and burying six chances at the free throw line. Sarah Lorusso posted a team-high seven steals while Jenah Labuski chipped in with three blocks, also a team lead.
The Wells College women's basketball team returns to action Tuesday, Nov. 20 as they host the Giants of Keystone College at 5:00 p.m. at the Frances Tarlton Farenthold Athletic Wing. Stay up to date with the latest news directly from the Wells College athletic department by "liking" us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/WellsExpress) and subscribing to our Twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/WellsExpress).