Women’s basketball falls in MAC semi-finals to Falcons

Brian Lukacsy February 26, 2014 0
Women’s basketball falls in MAC semi-finals to Falcons

The Elizabethtown College women’s basketball team wrapped up their regular season at Albright College by defeating the Lions 71-49 on Saturday afternoon. The victory was the Blue Jays’ 14th conference win of the season and 20th overall. The 20 wins are the most for the program since the 2000-01 season. With the win, Etown locked up the number two seed in the Commonwealth Conference Playoffs, guaranteeing the Blue Jays at least one more home game this year.

Lebanon Valley College grabbed the number one seed in the playoffs, while Messiah College, Stevenson University and Lycoming College took the third through fifth seeds, respectively.

In the game against Albright, sophomore guard Rachel Forjan led the Blue Jays with a game-high 20 points on nine of 11 shooting from the field. Senior forward Taylor Kreider was the only other Blue Jay in double-figures with 14 points and nine rebounds. Every player scored for Etown, as the bench combined to score 15 points for the Blue Jays.

A tight first 10 minutes of the first half turned into a blowout, as Forjan scored Etown’s final five points to lead 47-26 at halftime. The Blue Jays’ defense was a big reason for their comfortable halftime lead and ultimately their 22-point victory. Etown held the Lions top two players to 11 points and forced Albright to commit 23 turnovers, which the Blue Jays turned into 29 points.

Etown entered the playoffs winning five games in a row in its final season as a member of the Middle Atlantic Conference before making the move to the Landmark Conference next season.

“This team has so much chemistry that we can go as far as we believe possible. Obviously the goal is to win a conference championship, and to make it to NCAAs would be fantastic,” Forjan said.

The Blue Jays come off a week of high emotion with Kreider’s 1,000th point, senior day and the 1,000th program victory occurring in less than a 10-day span. “To be a part of the 1,000th victory is awesome, and it shows how successful our program has been,” Forjan said.

The Blue Jays hosted the third-seeded Messiah College Falcons last night in the semi-finals of the Conference Playoffs. Etown played very well in the confines of Thompson Gymnasium this season, winning nine of their 11 games at home. Both offenses struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, as Messiah shot 30 percent to Etown’s 27. The Falcons owned a 26-20 halftime lead, taking advantage of 10 Blue Jays first-half turnovers.

After the break, the Falcons second-half surge gave them a lead they never relinquished, defeating the Blue Jays 64-51. Etown’s leading scorer, Kreider, scored 14 of her game-high 22 points in the second half. Kreider also grabbed 11 rebounds in her final collegiate game.

Senior Kendra Beittel scored six points and fouled out to a standing ovation in her final game. First-year Krissy Pennell played an outstanding game for the Blue Jays, scoring 10 points and grabbing four steals while playing major minutes in place of Forjan who was saddled with foul trouble. Forjan finished the game with six points, all in the second half.

Messiah moves on to face Lebanon Valley College in the Commonwealth Conference Championship game on Saturday in Annville, Pa. The Blue Jays’ season has slim hopes of staying alive after a 20-5 season. An at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament may be possible.

An emotional Kreider left the game to a standing ovation with 13 seconds left on the clock; an ovation that lasted almost a minute in length.

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