Basketball Shoulders Tough Loss in Season Opener

Action photo of Lyons basketball player, Raquel Fitzpatrick.

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. - Three players reached double-figures as Worcester State University bested Mount Holyoke College, 63-34, in the season opener for both teams. The Lancers (1-0) were paced by a 12-point effort from junior Kaitlyn Berkel, while the Lyons (0-1) saw first year Raquel Fitzpatrick also post 12 points on the evening.

In addition to Berkel (Waterford, Conn./St. Bernard's), who also added a block, a steal and six rebounds, Worcester State saw sophomore guard Catherine Sweeney (Lowell, Mass./Greater Lowell Tech) and first year guard Sam Maglione (Lancaster, Mass./Nashoba Regional) each post 11 points. Both added three steals, while Sweeney also had two assists and six boards. Junior center Britt Herring (West Brookfield, Mass./Quaboag) notched a game-high three blocks.

For the Lyons, Fitzpatrick (Providence, R.I./Providence Country Day School) also recorded a game-best eight rebounds to go along with a game-high four steals. Junior captain Leah Hodges (New Haven, Conn./Kolbe Cathedral) added 10 points with six boards and two assists, while rookie forward GraceAnne Woods (Glen Cove, N.Y./Glen Cove) had eight points with five rebounds.

The Lancers opened the contest on a solid note, taking the opening quarter by a 21-6 margin. Following a Herring jumper at 5:38, the visitors capitalized on a steal - once again by Herring - to grab a quick layup from senior guard Brianna Hackett (Hollis, N.H./Hollis-Brookline) for a 13-3 lead. A three-pointer later from Maglione and a jumper by junior guard Kate Surprenant (Pelham, N.H./Pelham) sent the Lancers into the second frame with the advantage.

A 4-0 run to open the second quarter helped Worcester State forge ahead by a 25-6 margin. Another six-point run, aided by layups from Hackett and Herring, pushed the visitors out to a 31-8 lead, but the Lyons rebounded as Fitzpatrick sank back-to-back jumpers to cut the lead (31-12) with 5:00 remaining. Despite the momentum, which included a pair of free throw makes from Hodges with three seconds to play, the Lancers headed into halftime up 38-14.

In the third quarter, Lyons rookie Ireland Clare Kennedy (Oakland, Calif./Holy Names) nailed a jumper to cut the lead to 44-17 with 7:28 in the frame, but the Lancers continued to answer. Hodges was able to give MHC another score, draining a three-pointer (46-20), but first year guard Colleen Cutting (Auburn, Mass./Auburn) sunk a jumper at 1:08 to give the visitors a 55-20 lead.

Mount Holyoke, which saw Woods sink four free throws over the final 40 seconds of the third, made it a 57-26 game as Woods nailed a layup at the 9:26 mark. A Hodges jumper edged the Lyons closer, but Surprenant answered for Worcester State on the turnaround play. Down the stretch, Fitzpatrick scored the final six points of the contest for the Lyons, but the Lancers defense held strong.

Mount Holyoke is back in action on Saturday when it travels to Milton, Mass., to compete in the Curry College Tip-Off Tournament. The Lyons open against Maine Maritime at 1pm and will play either Pine Manor or Curry on Sunday in the consolation (1pm) or championship (3pm) game. Worcester State is also back in action this weekend at the Worcester City Tournament. The Lancers will face-off against Clark at 5:30pm on Friday and will play in the consolation or championship game on Saturday.