The Elizabethtown College women’s basketball team will enter the Landmark Conference Playoffs on a three-game winning streak after their victory over Susquehanna on Saturday. The Blue Jays and the Crusaders played for seeding in the Landmark Conference tournament. The Blue Jays conquered the Crusaders 74-60 to clinch the third seed. The Blue Jays were on fire from the field, leading the entire game and spent 36:17 with the lead in double digits.
It took just under four minutes for Etown to break away with a lead of 10-0. Right off the bat, senior Taylor Alwine’s jumper made it 6-0, forcing Susquehanna to call a time out. In just the first few minutes of the game, the Crusaders had five turnovers, helping the Blue Jays get off to a successful start.
For most of the first half, the Crusaders struggled to produce offensive efforts. Susquehanna forward Nikki Komara started crashing the boards and scoring on easy putbacks to make the game closer.
The fast start for Elizabethtown was not a fluke, as they continued to dominate the first half. The Blue Jays hit 13 of their first 20 shots in the game. Junior guard Rachel Forjan dropped her first three-pointer of the game with around six minutes left in the first half. The Blue Jays jumped out to their largest lead of the game at 29-9.
Sophomore forward Emily Martin, Forjan, and Alwine continued their hot shooting, hitting a collective 11 for 16 shots in the first half. The three Blue Jays combined for 24 of Etown’s 38 points in the first half. Etown outrebounded Susquehanna 16-7.
Susquehanna closed the gap in the second half, getting as close as 14 points on a few occasions. Etown still continued its efficient shooting throughout the final 20 minutes to keep the Crusaders at bay. Etown shot a season-best 54 percent (27-for-50) from the field.
Forjan led all scorers with 22 point on the afternoon. Her 22 points included four three-pointers. Alwine added 14, while sophomore point guard Krissy Pennell had eight points and eight assists. Martin came away with a second straight double-double effort of 14 points and 12 boards.
As the regular season ended and the team looked forward to the postseason, Forjan reflected on the program’s success this year.
“We were picked fourth in the preseason and that has been pretty accurate,” Forjan said. “We didn’t know much about the other teams in this conference and all we could control was the way we play and I believe we did that this season. We hit a tough part of our season right after Christmas, but the fact that we fought back to make playoffs just shows how determined this team really is.”
The women’s basketball team traveled to face the second-seeded Catholic University Cardinals last night for the semi-final round of the Landmark Conference Playoffs. It is the fourth straight year the Blue Jays have made the postseason.
Forjan attributed a lot of the team’s success this season to one major concept. “Communication has always been the key for us this entire season,” Forjan said. “When we are a vocal team, it gets our intensity up which results in good defense, efficient offense and good team chemistry.”
Etown and Catholic finished the regular season with identical Landmark Conference records, 11-5, but the Cardinals held the tie-breaker over the Blue Jays based on their victory over the University of Scranton earlier this season.
The Blue Jays split their two games with Catholic in the regular season. The last time these two teams met up, Etown defeated the Cardinals at Thompson Gymnasium 63-58 on Feb. 4.
“Obviously beating them last time is a huge confidence booster for us,” Forjan said. “However, we still have the memory of us playing pretty poorly at their place. Those past games do not matter anymore. The winner of this game moves on and we are completely focused on that.”
The Blue Jays fell behind the Cardinals by six just a few minutes into the contest before battling back to take their first lead at 21-19 with four minutes left in the first half.
After taking tying the game at 19, the Blue Jays went on a 9-3 run to take a 28-22 lead into halftime on the road. Alwine led all scorers with 9 points at the break.
Unfortunately for Etown, Catholic took control of the second half, tying the game five and a half minutes into the second half. The Blue Jays last lead of the game came at 33-32 with 15:24 left in the contest. Catholic ended the game on a 20-14 run to defeat Etown 52-47 in the semi-final contest.
Catholic moves on to face the University of Scranton on Saturday in the championship game of the Landmark Playoffs. Scranton defeated Susquehanna University last night, 92-49.
Etown’s season ends with an overall record of 18-7 and 11 wins in the Landmark Conference.
The Blue Jays lose three seniors from this year’s team. Alwine, Emily Young and Erika Ferro will all graduate this May and take with them four postseason appearances during their four-year basketball career at Etown.
Etown does return four of its top five scorers from this year’s team in Forjan, Martin, Pennell and junior guard/forward Alyssa Aichele.