New day at Thomas More

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For Jenny Burgoyne and the rest of Thomas More, there's a renewed emphasis on making up for last year's early exit.
Thomas More athletics file photo 

Jenny Burgoyne remembers the feeling of being knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the opening round a year ago.

It wasn't fun.

Thomas More lost 72-55 to Carthage despite 17 points from Burgoyne and the loss served as added motivation for the season ahead.

"It was very rough losing that game," said Burgoyne, a junior forward for the Saints. "We didn't want to go out like that. We felt like we should have won that game but didn't play our best. We used it as motivation during the offseason and we are ready to play up to our high expectations."

The Saints have an exciting new transfer in the mix, are nationally ranked once again and off to a 2-0 start, defeating Wittenberg 85-76 and knocking off Wilmington 77-55.

"We have started off pretty well," Burgoyone said. "We feel good about the way things went in those first two games. We worked really well as a team and we just have to build on those wins and keep working hard."

Burgoyne certainly did her part to work hard in the offseason for the eighth-ranked Saints after averaging 10.4 points per game last season. She also led the team in rebounds with 177. As a freshman, she played in only 16 games because of a shoulder injury and averaged 5.4 points per outing that year.

"I worked on getting a lot faster and stronger in the offseason," Burgoyne said. "I wanted to build extra strength as a post player because the tougher I am inside, the more I can battle in there during games, especially when you get into the postseason. I want to be as tough to guard as possible."

Burgoyne said she also worked on her shooting touch in the offseason and it seems to have paid off early on. Burgoyne is clicking for 13.5 points per game and is grabbing 9.0 rebounds per outing. She is shooting 61.1 percent from the floor.

"I feel like I've played well so far, but I can always get better," Burgoyne said. "The big thing is my teammates can count on me to step up. They have confidence in me and I have confidence in them. My experience has definitely made a difference this year."

Burgoyne played her high school basketball in Cincinnati and was a three-year starter. But making the jump to the college level was not easy.

It took her time to adjust to the much faster pace of the game and it took time to learn how to balance academics and athletics.

"Balancing school with basketball was the biggest thing to get used to," Burgoyne said. "It was hard to do because i would love to just be able to play basketball, but I know I'm here to get an education, too. It's gotten easier to do and I've enjoyed my experience here."

Thomas More has won seven consecutive Presidents Athletic Conference tournament championships and the Saints are no doubt the favorite to win an eighth title.

It can be difficult being marked as the team to beat but Burgoyne said she and her teammates enjoy the challenge that comes with that role.

"Every team looks at us as the team they want to knock off and they come at us with their best shot," Burgoyne said. "We love being in that position. It makes us play harder. We know every game matters and we come out and play hard against every opponent."

The Saints are averaging 81 points per game and allowing 65.5. Sydney Moss, who is the daughter of former NFL star Randy Moss and transferred in from the University of Florida in the offseason, leads the team in scoring at 21.5 points per game. Devin Beasley is clicking for 15.5 points per outing, while Katie Kitchen averages 9.5 points per game.

The ultimate goal of course is to make a run at the NCAA championship, and Burgoyne believes if the Saints can play up to their potential, they have a shot at playing deep into March.

"We have high expectations for ourselves and we want to get back to the NCAA tournament," Burgoyne said. "If we are going to do it, though, and have an opportunity to compete for a championship, we have to play as a team and always give our best effort. We're looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year."

Ohio Athletic Conference

John Carroll's men's basketball team had seven players score in double figures in its 115-84 win over Alma on Saturday.

The Blue Streaks shot over 50 percent for the game and Jake Hollinger led the balanced scoring attack with 16 points. He also pulled down eight rebounds.

Doug Caputo dropped in 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds while David inane, playing in just his second college game, poured in 13 points and dished out six assists.

John Carroll never trailed and scored 52 points in the paint. It also scored 25 points off turnovers. The Blue Streaks are 2-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

Kathleen Phillips scored 29 points and Heidelberg earned a 69-62 win over Albion on Tuesday. Phillips was one of three players in double figures for the Student Princes, who are 3-0 on the season.

Allie Hawkins scored 11 points and Jackie Abrecht dropped in 10 points.

Heidelberg shot 43 percent from the field and scored 19 points off turnovers. They also tallied 17 assists as a team and held Albion to 23.9 percent shooting from the field.

Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association

Eric Evans was clutch when it mattered most as he nailed a 3-pointer with a hand in his face with less than a second remaining to lift Albion to a 51-50 win over Spring

Arbor on Tuesday. It was the 40th 3-pointer of Evan's career and it helped lift the Britons to a 3-0 start to the season.

Jordan Herron poured in 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first doule-double of the year. He led the Brtions in scoring while Lawrence Ridgell added 13 points.

Hope's women's basketball team prevailed in the highest-scoring game in the history of its series with Calvin. The Flying Dutch, behind Maura McAfee's 26 poins and 16 rebounds, earned an 88-81 win over the Knights on Tuesday.

The previous high for combined points in a game between the two nationally ranked schools was 160 in 2003. Hope won that game as well, 88-72.

McAfee set a career-high for rebounds in the win and her rebound total was the most by a Hope player since 2009 when Courtney Knox grabbed 16 rebounds. McAfee also scored the most points of her career in the win.

Angelique Gaddy clicked for 16 points and dished out five assists while Anna Kaufmann and Hannah Doell scored 14 and 13, respectively. Hope trailed 18-3 early on and was down 35-29 at halftime.

Presidents Athletic Conference

Bethany's men's basketball team got double-digit scoring efforts from all five of its starters and nailed down a 79-61 win over Mount Union on Tuesday.

Delonte Joyce led the way as he poured in 17 points, a career-high, and also grabbed 14 rebounds as he came through the first double-double of his career.

Leslie Addy and Lawrence Weldon pumped in 15 points apiece and Kevin Jackson finished with 14 points. Tyrone Smothers added 10 points. It was the second consecutive game Addy has been in double figures.

Bethany held a 45-39 edge on the boards as it improved to 2-0 on the year. Fourteen of those rebounds were on the offensive glass and led to 13 second-chance points.

The Bison dominated in the paint as well, out-scoring the Purple Raiders 32-22.

Westminster rolled to an 87-58 win over Dominican on Saturday, the most points it has scored in a game since hanging 96 on the board against Pitt-Bradford during the 2007 season.

Andrea Marsh came through with a stellar performance as she scored a career-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. Hannah Shaffer turned in her second consecutive double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Courtney Zitt and Courtney Klein scored 14 and 10 points, respectively, as the Titans won their first game of the year.

Westminster shot 49.3 percent from the field and held Dominican to 24.7 percent shooting. The Titans held a 55-43 edge on the glass in the victory.

North Coast Athletic Conference

Josh Valentic poured in 13 points and helped Allegheny cap a 2-0 run through the Greg Richards '08 Memorial Tip-Off Tournament with a 58-44 win over Alma on Saturday.

Valentic scored 28 on the first night of the tourney and was named the MVP. Brandon Smith also played well as he scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

The Gators led 28-23 at halftime and a total of nine players scored for the Gators. D'Andre Corbin dished out eight assists for the second consecutive game and the Gators held the Scots to 29 percent shooting from the field.

Allegehny also held a commanding 55-27 edge on the boards.

Four players scored in double figures as Denison's women's basketball team shot 57 percent from the field and rolled to an 81-59 win over Otterbein on Saturday in the Franklin Tip Off Classic.

Denison, now 2-0 on the season, led 42-33 at halftime as it closed the first half on a 12-2 run.

Candise Love led the Big Red with 16 points and also dished out six assists.

Gretchen Staubach poured in 15 points and Jordan Holmes came through with her first career double-double as she scored 11 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. She also blocked seven shots, the most by any Denison player since Carolyn Simpson had seven blocks in a game during the 2008 season. Staubach was named to the all-tournament team.

American Southwest Conference

Concordia's men's basketball team won its first season opener since 2010 as it edged Huston-Tillotson 129-127 in a cross-town rivalry game on Friday.

Dwayne Patterson led the way as he torched the nets to the tune of a career-high 38 points. He also pulled down 12 rebounds to register a double-double.

Josh Sanchez wasn't bad either as he lit up the scoreboard for 33 points and dished out six assists to help the Tornados hang on for a thrilling win after leading by 16 in the second half.

Brett DeMetrotion scored 15 points and grabed nine rebounds while Clay Marley clicked for 10 points. Concordia shot 51.2 percent from the floor in the win.

Britani Gattis tied a conference record for 3-point shots as she led Howard Payne to a 96-54 win over Sul Ross State on Tuesday.

Gattis knocked down ten 3-pointers to tie the ASC record for 3-pointers in a game and finished with 32 points to pace the Yellow Jackets in their season opener. Gattis also pulled down 12 rebounds and handed out five assists.

Danyel Bradley came through with 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. She dished out four assists. Sarah Van Remmen poured in 11 points.

Great South Athletic Conference

Maria Vaughan clicked for 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as she guided Pine Manor to a 101-70 win over Mitchell College on Tuesday.

Ari DeJesus also stepped up in the win as she recorded her third consecutive double-double. DeJesus scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as the Gators improved to 3-0.

Pine Manor opened up a 13-0 lead and never looked back. Six players finished in double figures. Sybil Lynch poured in 16 [points and Natasia Franklin finished with 14 points. Khiyana Isaac added 10 points.

The Gators led by as many as 44 points en route to the victory.

Southern Athletic Association

Birmingham-Southern knocked off Emory 90-76 to win the Black Tie Classic on Sunday. The Panthers are now 2-0 on the year and Griffin Schamp paved the way in the latest win as he scored 23 points.

The other four starters were also in double figures for the Panthers. Larry Thomas poured in 19 points, Freeman Schylar and Ross Welch scored 12 points apiece and Jason Holland dropped in 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.

The Panthers shot 56.2 percent from the field and held Emory to 39.4 percent shooting.

Maggie Hartlage led Centre in scoring for the second consecutive game, pouring in 21 points as the Colonels knocked off LaGrange 65-48 on Sunday.

Hartlage made five treys to highlight her performance while Paige Baechle came through with her second double-double of the season, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Alanna Guy added 11 points for the Colonels, who led by as many as 19 points in the win.

Centre shot 43.6 percent from the floor and tallied 15 assists as a team.

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

Austin College's men's basketball team got hot from beyond the arc and knocked off Howard Payne 104-92 on Saturday

The Kangaroos drilled 17 3-pointers on 40 attempts from the outside. Austin was also unselfish as a team as racked up 30 assists. A total of 13 players scored in the win.

Ransom Okpala dropped in 19 points to pace Austin. He also pulled down nine rebounds. Brian Baehl clicked for 16 points and dished out seven assists.

Cody Meyers scored in double figures as well, finishing with 10 points. The Kangaroos shot 50.7 percent from the field as a team.

Texas Lutheran's women's basketball team opened the year with a 1-1 record as t defeated Dallas Christian 85-62 last Friday and lost 69-58 to Texas-Dallas the following night. Karissa Cantu poured in 17 points to pace the Bulldogs while also coming through with five rebounds, an assist and two steals.

The Bulldogs held Dallas Christian to 31.3 percent in the victory.

USA South Athletic Conference

Damian Dixon averaged 22 points per game for Greensboro during its 2-0 start to the season. He also averaged 2.0 steals and 1.5 assists per game as Greensboro knocked off Bob Jones (74-64) and Maryland Bible (76-72).

Dixon highlighted the effort with a double-double against Maryland Bible, scoring 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Maryville's women's basketball started its season at 2-0 and Mackenzie Puckett played a key role in the success. Puckett averaged 21 points and 7 rebounds per game as Maryville beat Hanover 69-67 and defeated Transylvania 86-78. Puckett scored 30 points in the win over Transylvania.

Old Dominion Athletic Conference

Avery Green played well for Shenandoah in its opening weekend of the season as he earned MVP honors of the BB&T Tip -Off Classic. He helped the Hornets win their own tournament as he scored 29 points in each of the two games. Shenandoah beat Methodist 84-77 and topped Hood 76-71 in the title game. Green shot 63.6 percent from the floor in the two wins and grabbed six rebounds in each of the two games as he has come back strong after playing in just nine games a year ago because of an injury.

Taylor Huber played a key role in Randolph Macon's women's basketball team's title run in the Hampton Inn South Tip-Off Tournament at Mary Washington.

Huber helped the Yellow Jackets stun No. 3 Christopher Newport 92-86 as she lit up the scoreboard for 24 points and tallied two assists and three steals. She scored 21 points to go along with nine assists, three rebounds and three steals in a 92-70 win over Rutgers-Newark. She made six treys in the two games.

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. The highlight of his career was covering the University of Findlay men's basketball team's perfect 36-0 run to an NCAA Division II national championship in 2009. During his career, has covered all three levels of the NCAA tourney and has done freelance work for newspapers and web sites. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois and lives in Ottawa with his wife and daughter.