New Haven, Conn. – The Albertus Magnus College women's basketball team fell to visiting Johnson & Wales, 65-52, on Tuesday evening at The Nest inside the Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) opener for both squads.
The Wildcats blew open a close contest after the first quarter to improve to 10-1 on the year, while the Falcons move to 6-5 overall with the setback. The victory was the third straight for JWU against Albertus Magnus, as the guests used a 20-point second stanza to build a double digit lead they would not relinquish.
During the opening 10 minutes, the two conference foes went back-and-forth, trading buckets and missed jumpers. After AMC sophomore forward Olivia Bolden (South Windsor, Conn.) opened the scoring with a jump shot from the elbow, the Wildcats answered on the following possession with a layup from sophomore center Ashley Thompson. The brief two-point edge would be the only time all evening the hosts would have the advantage. With a little over a minute left in the first quarter, JWU sophomore guard Sarah Duryea hit a free throw to cap the scoring in the frame and give Johnson & Wales a 17-15 edge.
The Wildcats outscored the Falcons, 20-9, in the second quarter and forced seven AMC turnovers to take a 37-24 lead into halftime. During the frame, senior guard Savannah Kesge provided a spark off the bench for the guests with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
In the second half, JWU built their lead to as many as 19 early in the fourth quarter. The swarming and opportunistic Wildcat defense once again held the hosts to just nine points in the third quarter. Both teams struggled from the field in the third, combining to shoot 10-of-39. In the final stanza, the tempo picked back up with both squads running the floor and creating more offense.
Freshman guard Deja Ward (Middletown, Conn.) paced the offensive attack for Albertus Magnus, netting a career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. The speedy wing also contributed two rebounds, two assists and four steals, while hitting two shots from beyond the arc and both of her attempts from the charity stripe. Bolden continued to be a force in the paint, registering her second straight double-double courtesy of a 17 point, 11 rebound performance. Senior tri-captain Kelsey Pendagast (Shelton, Conn.) had a solid game in the post, scoring six points to go along with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Kresge led the charge for Johnson & Wales with 23 points off the bench in just 21 minutes of action. The 5-8 guard shot 9-of-17 from the floor and hit three shots from three-point range. Speedy guard Raquel Pederzani ran the point effectively, dishing out a game-high six assists to go along with 11 points. Thompson was the other Wildcat in double figures with 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting. On the glass, junior forward Bobbi Whitehead pulled down a game-best 17 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.
Johnson & Wales won the battle of the boards, 50-43, and held AMC to just over 31 percent shooting from the field for the game. The Wildcat bench outscored the Falcons, 28-2, and the guests knocked down eight shots from beyond the arc compared to just two for the hosts.
Albertus Magnus returns to action on Saturday, January 9, with a road GNAC clash versus Saint Joseph's (Maine) at 1:00 pm at the Harold Alfond Center. The Falcons are looking to snap a 10-game losing streak against the Monks.