ORLANDO, Fla. – The Baldwin Wallace University women's basketball team had its opportunity to upset seventh-ranked Hope (Mich.) College but could not convert, falling in the final seconds 55-53 in the first game of the RDV Sportsplex D3 Classic, hosted by Hope.
BW (6-4, 2-2 Ohio Athletic Conference) was led by sophomore guard Riley Schill for the second game in a row as the sophomore scored 13 points. Junior All-OAC guard Hannah Fecht (Hilliard/Davidson) also found her way into double digits as she contributed 12 points of her own. Transfer sophomore guard/forward Mary Schentur (Broadview Heights/Brecksville-Broadview Heights) and freshman forward Sydney Diedrich (Chardon/Gilmour Academy) led the rebounding effort with seven boards each.
Hope (9-0) was led by sophomore guard Arika Tolbert who recorded a game-high 14 points. Senior guard Madison Geers also found her way into double digits on the boards with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Both offenses struggled from the floor to open the game, as BW shot 22.7 percent in the first half while Hope shot 23.5 percent. Key first quarter three-pointers by Fecht and senior Academic All-OAC Katie Smith (Fairview Park/Fairview) kept the Yellow Jackets within at least four points of the nationally-ranked Flying Dutch.
A three-point play by Fecht to open the second quarter helped the Yellow Jackets out to a 13-11 lead. Although BW failed to make a field goal in the final 8:50 of the quarter, turnovers and fouls by the Flying Dutch continued to keep the game close. Instead, the Yellow Jackets took advantage at the foul line, scoring six straight points from the charity stripe for a 21-18 lead with 3:40 left. Hope started to find some offensive rhythm at the end of the first half and went into halftime with a 24-22 lead.
Hope maintained that rhythm in the second half with some easy baskets and finally began to hit from the three-point line, eventually building up to a 43-33 lead by the end of the third quarter, its only double-digit lead of the game.
BW was not going down without a fight, however, and started the fourth quarter on 9-0 run, highlighted by three pointers from freshman guard Gabby Garrett (Columbus/Bishop Watterson) and Fecht. Both teams' defenses dug in and held the game scoreless for over two minutes as the Flying Dutch clung to a 45-44 lead with 4:34 left. As minutes ticked away, Hope built up a modest five-point lead, 54-49, with 20 seconds remaining. A layup by Schill and a crucial turnover on the ensuing Hope possession gave BW the chance to hit a game-tying three with 10 seconds left. The Yellow Jackets put the ball in the hands of Fecht, their leading three-point shooter. However, the Flying Dutch wisely fouled the junior, sending her to the charity stripe where she nailed both her free throws to make the score 54-53 with 8.5 seconds on the clock. One free throw by Tolbert sealed a 55-53 victory as the Flying Dutch narrowly avoided the upset.
BW will have one more opportunity to knock off No. 7 Hope during the RDV Sportsplex D3 Classic on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 5:30 p.m. from the RDV Sportsplex Athletic Club in Orlando, Florida.