For Immediate Release – 1/23/19 - #091
Monarch Women Top Previously Undefeated Misericordia, 80-70
WILKES-BARRE, PA (January 23, 2019) – It wasn't always pretty, and it wasn't perfect, but the result was what head coach Caitlin Hadzimichalis was looking for as her King's College women's basketball team pulled the upset of previously undefeated Misericordia University 80-70 in Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom (MAC Freedom) action from McGrane Gymnasium.
The Cougars came into the game having won their first 16 games of the 2018-19 season and were ranked No. 24 in the D3hoops.com Poll and No. 20 in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Top 25 poll. Misericordia was one of just five remaining Division III women's basketball teams that had yet to lose, but the Monarchs had the right recipe to get the job done.
The Monarchs went to a very aggressive zone defense, which forced the Cougars (16-1, 5-1 MAC Freedom) to shoot just 40.5 percent from the floor. That included 22 three-point attempts, which led to a lot of transition for the Monarchs where they thrive. King's finished with a huge 35-19 edge in fast break points, which included a 16-7 advantage in points off turnovers.
The first quarter was nip-and-tuck the whole way, as neither team led by more than three points in the period. After Paige Wampole gave Misericordia a three-point edge at 16-13, King's freshman Samantha Rajza stole the inbounds pass and hit a jumper at the buzzer to make it a 16-15 lead for the visitors.
In the second quarter, King's regained its lead early on after Emily Kriston posted a breakaway bucket to give the Monarchs a 17-16 edge. The Cougars went on an 8-0 run over the next three minutes to gain a 24-17, before a triple from Lindsey Dippre ended the run with a three-pointer. Japriya Carroll responded with a three-pointer to make the score 27-20 in favor of the visitors, but King's roared back with a 10-0 spurt thanks to seven points from senior Alexis Steeber to regain a 30-27 edge.
The Cougars went back on top at 34-30, but King's finished the period on a 7-2 run to take a slight 37-36 lead into halftime. After halftime, the Monarchs came alive from behind the three-point line, nailing 5-of-10 from behind the arc thanks to the exploits of junior guard Mackenzie Yori and Rajza. Yori posted nine points on 3-of-5 shooting in the quarter, while Rajza was 2-of-3 as part of a 17-6 run for King's over 6:48 of the stanza.
King's led by 12 on two occasions in the third quarter, with the latest coming on a pair of free throws from junior Rebecca Prociak with 2:00 minutes to go in the third. Jordan Barth would trim the King's lead back into single digits just before the end of the quarter to send the game into the fourth quarter with King's up 60-52.
The Monarch momentum continued into the fourth quarter, taking their largest lead of 14 with 7:42 to play after two freebies from Yori. The Cougars showed why they were yet to lose in 2018-19 with a furious comeback over the next 4:30 of the period, going on a 11-2 run capped by a triple from Carroll to make the score 70-66 with 3:11 to go.
The next score for King's was huge, as Rajza stepped in front of an errant pass and went coast-to-coast to put the hosts back up six. On the next possession, Prociak took a rebound and tossed a great outlet pass to Yori, who went in uncontested for a layup to make the score 74-66 with 1:13 to play in regulation. Erica Haefele answered with a three-pointer, but King's was a perfect 6-for-6 from the line over the last minute to put the game away.
The win for the Monarchs was its first over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 14 FDU-Florham back on December 5, 2015. Four players were in double figures, paced by the team-leading 21 points from Steeber. The senior shot 9-of-17, while also contributing five rebounds and three steals. Her point total of 21 was a season-high, and two points shy of her career-best.
Yori was 7-of-17 from the floor on the night, finishing with 19 points, four steals and four assists. The Hazleton, PA native has now hit 11 three-pointers in her last four games. Rajza was dynamic on Wednesday, as she finished with 16 points on 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc, while adding five rebounds, four assists and three steals. It was the second-highest point total of the season for the freshman.
Though now posting her best shooting night of the season, Prociak still managed to chalk up yet another double-double, finishing with 14 points and a game-high 13 boards. The junior also added five assists, four blocks and three steals. Junior Kayla Dillinger was very strong defensively, adding a triple of her own in 35 minutes for King's.
The Monarchs were 28-of-70 (40 percent) from the field, making 9-of-26 (34.6 percent) from behind the three-point arc. It was the third-most triples in a game this season for KC. King's was also 15-of-15 from the line, including making all 10 in the fourth quarter. The 100 percent shooting (15-15) from the line was the best shooting percentage in a game ever for King's in a contest where King's made 10 or more from the line.
Carroll led Misericordia with 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, going 10-of-21 from the floor. Wampole also posted 14 points and seven rebounds, but the Cougars who came in with the fourth-best rebounding margin in the country only bested the Monarchs on the glass 45-42.
King's (11-7, 5-2 MAC Freedom) returns to action against another ranked opponent Saturday, hosting No. 21/18 DeSales University in McGrane Gymnasium at 1 p.m. in more conference action.