Worcester, Mass. - There's something about the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) that brings out the best in the Manhattan College women's basketball team. Led by a career-high 25 points from Schyanne Halfkenny (Hyde Park, Mass.) the Jaspers (18-15) moved into the WBI semifinals for the second straight year with a 78-63 quarterfinal victory over Holy Cross (19-15) at the Hart Center on Sunday.
After Holy Cross jumped out to an early 4-2 lead, the Jaspers went on a 14-2 run to open up a 16-6 lead with 11:15 left in the first half. The Crusaders were held without a field goal for more than seven minutes before Brisje Malone hit a layup to make it an eight-point game, 18-10, midway through the period.
Manhattan responded with a Toni-Ann Lawrence (Elmont, N.Y.) layup that ignited an 8-1 spurt over the next 2:30. The Jaspers' advantage reached 15 points when Halfkenny hit a trey to make it 26-11, but Holy Cross used a 7-2 run to get back within 10 at 28-18 with 5:42 remaining before halftime. The teams then traded five-point spurts, with the Jaspers going up 38-23 on a trey by Lindsey Loutsenhizer (North Huntingdon, Pa.) at the 2:32 mark. Holy Cross scored the final four points of the half to trim its margin to 38-27 at intermission.
Holy Cross pulled within eight, 40-32, early in the second half, but Manhattan responded with six straight points to open up a 46-32 advantage. With the Jaspers leading 54-40, Amy Lepley hit a three-pointer to spark a 9-2 Holy Cross run that got the Crusaders back within seven at 56-49. However, Halfkenny hit a trey on the other end to start an 11-4 Manhattan rally, and the margin ballooned to a game-high 17 points at 70-53 with 4:46 to play. Holy Cross tallied the next seven points to again get within 10 at 70-60, but the Jaspers responded with a 6-0 run of their own to make it 76-60 with 1:40 left. The 78-63 victory was Manhattan's fourth WBI win over the last two seasons.
Halfkenny had five rebounds to go along with her 25 points. She also handed out four assists and didn't commit a turnover in 35 minutes of action. Loutsenhizer notched 17 points to move into fifth place on the Jaspers' all-time scoring list, while also contributing a team-high seven rebounds and a career-high seven steals. Lawrence added 12 points, and Monica Roeder (Marlton, N.J.) tallied 10 points and five steals. Alyssa Herrington (Cambridge, N.Y.) finished with nine points and handed out eight assists for the second straight game. As a team, Manhattan posted 21 assists on 28 baskets. The Jaspers also recorded 21 steals. Manhattan shot 45.2 percent (28-of-62) from the field, 41.2 percent (7-of-17) from downtown, and 71.4 percent (15-of-21) at the line.
Lepley led the Crusaders with 17 points and added eight rebounds, while Alex Smith tallied 13 points and four assists. Emily Parker contributed 10 points and eight rebounds. Christine Ganser recorded seven points and a team-high nine boards, and Clare Sullivan posted seven rebounds and three blocks in nine minutes off the bench. Malone handed out a team-high five assists. Holy Cross shot 39.6 percent (21-of-53) from the field, including 27.3 percent (6-of-22) from three-point land, and 88.2 percent (15-of-17) at the charity stripe.
The eighth-seeded Jaspers have a semifinal date with second-seeded Minnesota (17-17) in Minneapolis, Minn., at 8 p.m. EDT on Friday night. The Golden Gophers posted an 85-59 victory over Bradley in their quarterfinal game. The Manhattan-Minnesota winner will take on either Northern Iowa or Seattle for the WBI championship next Sunday.