Shore cagers’ 2-0 week improves playoff chances

CHESTERTOWN — This time a week ago, the playoff forecast for Washington’s women was grim.

Not so much now.

Back-to-back wins can do that.

On Saturday, in what was celebrated as its alumnae game, Washington upset Ursinus, 59-53.

The locals, who avenged a loss by the identical score at Ursinus about four weeks ago, improved to 7-8 in the Centennial Conference.

Washington (10-10 overall) is sitting on the bubble of earning a berth in the six-team conference tournament that begins Feb. 20, with five games remaining.

In the WC-Ursinus rematch Feb. 3, the home team took the lead at 19-16 on a Kaleigh White 3-pointer with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining in the first frame, and led the rest of the way.

Ursinus’ only lead was 5-3 on a Sarah DiLello three 2:19 into the game.

Emma Robinson’s layup 13 seconds later made it 5-5.

Washington would lead by as many as seven points in the first quarter, 14-7, on a Karry Kelliher jumper on the fly with just under five minutes remaining. 

Ursinus (12-9, 8-8 CC) tied the score at 16 on a Natalie Mehl 3-pointer with 2:10 to go.

After the teams traded turnovers, Washington’s Peyton Berger came up with a steal that led to White’s go-ahead-for-good 3-pointer.

Washington stretched its 21-18 advantage at the end of the first quarter to 38-24 at halftime.

The Bears outscored their hosts in the third quarter, 17-7, to close to 45-41 with 10 minutes remaining.

Ursinus pulled to within 55-53 on a Chinwe Irondi lay-in with 2:12 remaining, but was unable to come all the way back from its double-digit deficit at halftime. 

Kelliher closed out the game with a jump shot and two free throws over the final 1:18.

Kelliher (four assists, two blocks) and Serena Pluta scored 14 points apiece for the winners.

Washington outrebounded Ursinus, 48-33, led by 6-foot Pluta with a season-high 14 boards.

Pluta recorded her third double-double in the last four games.

Ursinus’ Dilello (six rebounds) led all players with 20 points. Mehl and Irondi (eight rebounds) contributed 16 and 11 points, respectively. 

Washington at home defeated conference rival Haverford, 63-45, to open the week Jan. 31. Senior forward Pluta scored a career-best 24 points to go with seven rebounds.

Washington led 28-23 after a closely contested first half.

Pluta’s layup with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter gave the Shore ladies their first double-digit lead, 40-29.

At the end of the quarter, Washington was up by 14 points, 48-34.

Washington led by as many as 12 points the rest of the way.

In addition to Pluta’s career day, Kaitlyn Boggs contributed 10 points and Kelliher matched her career best with eight assists.

The Shore ladies travel to Centennial foe Bryn Mawr tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 6) for the second game of their home-and-away series. In early December, Washington at home defeated Bryn Mawr, 71-37.

The next home game is Saturday, Feb. 10 against conference rival Dickinson. It’s Senior Day. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.

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