New Haven, Conn. – Freshman Deja Ward (Middletown, Conn.) scored a team-high 16 points to lead the Albertus Magnus College women's basketball team past visiting Mitchell, 61-50, on Saturday afternoon in non-conference action at The Nest inside the Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center. In her collegiate debut, Ward knocked down 5-of-8 shots from the field, highlighted by hitting three shots from beyond the arc.
For the second straight season, the Falcons topped the Mariners in the season opener for both squads. Albertus never trailed in the contest and led by as many 16 in the fourth quarter. With the rule changes implemented by the NCAA this season, women's basketball games now consist of four ten-minute quarters as opposed to two 20-minute halves.
The Falcons jumped on the visitors during the first stanza, outscoring the guests, 17-6, and forcing eight turnovers. In the first quarter, Albertus Magnus held Mitchell to just 2-of-10 shooting from the field, while knocking down seven of its 18 shots. The hosts began and ended their scoring in the frame with three pointers as senior guard Olivia Sutherland (Wallingford, Conn.) gave the hosts a 3-0 lead on the first possession of the game and sophomore Angelina Piccirillo (Naugatuck, Conn.) hit a trey with 15 seconds left in the quarter to give Albertus an 11-point edge.
In the second quarter, Mitchell clawed its way back into the game and outscored AMC, 15-13. Midway through the frame, a layup from senior wing Diamond Thomas pulled the visitors to within four at 20-16. The Falcons responded with a quick 7-0 run capped by a jumper from senior forward Kelsey Pendagast (Shelton, Conn.) to once again build a double digit lead. Heading into the break, a pair of buckets from Thomas in the final minute made it a nine-point game in favor of the hosts at 30-21 at the half.
The Falcons and Mariners traded baskets in the third quarter with each team scoring 16 to give Albertus Magnus a 46-37 lead with 10 minutes left in regulation. Back-and-forth the two in-state rivals went in the frame with the guests unable to pull within less than eight.
It was the same story in the fourth quarter, as the visitors could not go on a scoring run to make it close. After a slow start from the free-throw line, Albertus Magnus hit all six of its attempts in the fourth to hold on for the victory.
Offensively, Ward poured in 16 for Albertus, while Sutherland and sophomore Olivia Bolden (South Windsor, Conn.) also scored in double figures. Sutherland had 13 points thanks to hitting three shots from three-point range to go along with three assists and two steals. Bolden, the reigning GNAC Rookie of the Year, netted 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds. In the post, Pendagast hold a solid game for the hosts, scoring six points and grabbing a game-high eight rebounds.
Senior forward Amanda Garcia paced the attack for Mitchell with a game-high 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field and pulled down six boards. Joining Garcia in double figures for the Mariners were Thomas and junior guard Jessica Shepherd. Thomas had 10 points and Shepherd added 11 in a losing effort.
On the boards, Albertus held a 44-34 edge. The Falcons also shot over 70 percent from the charity stripe, while Mitchell hit just under 54 percent of its shots from the free-throw line.
Albertus Magnus returns to action on Sunday, November 15, with a road contest versus Division I foe Yale at 2:00 pm.