Kings Point, NY – The USMMA women's basketball team doubled-up Berkeley (NY) on the glass, outrebounding the Knights 56-28, en route to a season opening victory. Senior Kristina Walz (Monona, IA) and junior Demi VanDerWal (Springfield, IL) posted identical lines of 16 points and nine rebounds as the Mariners earned the 62-54 win. Freshman Julie Mall (Littlestown, PA) recorded nine points and six rebounds in her first collegiate start.
Berkeley (NY) (1-1) got off to a fast start, building an 8-2 edge following a Janay Thomas layup. The Knights were paced by the 19 points of Aiyesha Brown but were limited to 26.7 percent shooting from the floor. The visitors did force USMMA into 22 total turnovers that resulted in 20 points, however they were unable to keep the Mariners from converting on second chance opportunities. USMMA totaled 23 offensive rebounds that added up to 26 total points.
Merchant Marine (1-0) opened up its largest lead of the first half at 26-19 following a Walz free throw with 2;19 left in the period. The Mariners converted on 21-of-30 (70%) of their attempts at the charity stripe. VanDerWal led the charge making 10-of-12 at the free throw line while the guard also notched two blocks on the night. Merchant Marine took a 28-22 lead into the halftime intermission as freshman Rachel Wehlburg (Herndon, VA) had the final points of the period.
The USMMA advantage never dipped lower than five points as Patricia Patterson made a layup for the Knights to make it 40-35 with just over 12 minutes left in regulation. The lead grew to as many as 11 points following a pair of VanDerWal free throws. Milan Germany brought drama to the final minutes with a three-pointer with 2:37 remaining to make it a 53-47 affair.
After the two teams traded free throws Mall and Walz buried back-to-back jumpers that ultimately put the game out of reach with just over one minute to play. The Mariners held off the Knights final charge and sealed the 62-54 triumph.
USMMA shot 40.8 percent for the game and made 47.4 percent of its attempts in the second half. Kelsey Hofmann (Adel, IA) made her first collegiate start and finished with four points and six rebounds. Alexandra Winfree (Millstone, NJ) made the Mariners only three-pointer and rounded out the night with five points, four rebounds, and two assists.
The USMMA women's basketball team returns to action Monday night for its first road game of the season against Purchase St. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm.