UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica College women's basketball team avenged a mid-season loss at Houghton by jumping out to an early lead and never looking back in the rematch Friday night as the Pioneers topped the visiting Highlanders 64-42 on the hardwood at the Clark Athletic Center. Sophomore forward Samantha Stayer (Allegany, NY/Allegany-Limestone) continued her excellent play, netting 14 of her 15 points in the first half, while senior Meghan Fiore (Epping, NH/Epping) added a game-high 16 points in what would appear to be her final home game as a Pioneer.
The Pioneers (12-11, 7-5 Empire 8) have now won three of their last four contests headed into the final weekend of the regular season on the road at Ithaca and Elmira next Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m.). UC recently knocked off second place Hartwick College, 64-61, in front of a state-wide television audience on Time Warner Cable Sports Tuesday night. Utica currently sits in third place in the conference, but they have played one more game than both Stevens and Fisher, who sit at 6-5 in conference competition.
The Highlanders, a provisional member of the conference, have now lost eight of their last nine contests and dropped to 9-13 overall on the year. Houghton has struggled on the road all season, winning just one of ten contests when traveling.
The Pioneers burst out to an 18-11 lead, behind a combined 17 points from Fiore, Stayer and Marissa Kahane (Sayville, NY/Sayville) in the first 10:50 of the contest. The Pioneers did not slow as the half approached and at one point Stayer knocked down three consecutive lay-ups, to spark a 15-2 Utica run in a span of 7:10, to give Utica a convincing 35-17 lead at the half.
UC also scored the first nine points of the second half, to cap an 18-0 run that started in the first half and spanned into the second, for a total of 5:12. Utica kept the pressure on and led by as many as 32 points, 61-29, with 4:41 left in the game.
Kaitlin Hammersley and Emily Cronin combined for nine points in a 13-0 run for the Highlanders down the stretch, but it proved to be too late as UC cruised to the 22 point victory. Maisie Pipher hauled in a game-high 14 rebounds and she also added three blocks for Houghton.
Marissa Kahane (Sayville, NY/Sayville) provided a nice spark off the bench for the Pioneers as she drilled 3-of-4 attempts from the floor and 2-of-3 form behind the arc for a total of eight points. Senior Brittany Baudanza (Staten Island, NY/Staten Island Tech) also chipped in with a team-best eight rebounds and five points.
Utica scored 19 points off of 23 Highlander turnovers and senior Alyssa Filkins (Castleton, NY/Maple Hill) registered five assists, to raise her conference-leading average to 4.7 per game. Senior Megan Browning (Epping, NH/Epping) got the starting nod on senior night and did not disappoint, as she knocked down a second half 3-pointer, much to the delight of the Pioneer contingent.
Junior Bridget Greenwald (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Hills) added five rebounds and four points for Utica.