Lady Cavs capture CSAC crown

By Melissa Mariani
March 5, 2009

Matt Witmer

The Cabrini women’s basketball team became official back-to-back champions of the Colonial States Athletic Conference on Saturday, Feb. 28.

For the second consecutive year, the women won the conference championship with a final score of 78-67 against their rivals, Gwynedd-Mercy College.

The team advanced one step closer to the championship at the playoffs after winning against Cedar Crest College 70-52 on Wednesday, Feb. 25.

“Honestly it feels awesome to win. As seniors, it feels great to end four years with a conference championship, especially for two back-to-back years,” senior English and communication major Nicole Duggan said.

The victory made this the third consecutive season that the ladies made it to the CSAC tournament.

The only time the Cabrini women’s basketball team won a conference tournament three times in a row was from 1995-97.

Point guard Deana DiAmico gave her insight of Wednesday night’s win. “It was a great win for our team and gave us the motivation we needed to play in the championship game and come up with a win,” DiAmico, junior history major, said.

Head Coach Bernadette Laukaitis prepared the women for their success, completing her first year coaching here at Cabrini.

“I am just so proud of these young women. I never question the team’s effort and I know they are always going to give 110 percent,” Laukaitis said. “Play off games are always tough no matter who you are playing against. Cedar Crest is a great team and is very well-coached. They came out ready to go and so did our girls; it took us some time to get the nerves out of our system and play ‘our’ game but we eventually started to relax and play the way we know how.”

“Our coaching staff tries to put the best game plan possible out for each individual team that we play. The girls are the ones who need to do most of the preparation though. Basketball is an even more mental game than it is a physical game,” Laukaitis said.

“They have done a great job this year coming out everyday ready to work and get better as a team. We can go over all of the other teams’ plays and ours as well, but there is nothing better than them getting mentally prepared as best as they can. They know how important it is to be focused on the challenges in front of them and that I believe is the reason why we have been so successful this year.”

The seniors attacked the court with ambition and critical moves at the final game against Gwynedd-Mercy. Senior forward Kayleen Smith received MVP recognition with a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Brittany McLeod, senior forward, had a double-double, earning 15 points and 12 boards. McLeod had a game-high four steals and two critical block shots mid-way through the second half.

Kate Walck, junior shooting guard, had 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals against Gwynedd. Both scoring 10 points throughout the game were senior guard Kate Ryan and junior point guard DiAmico.

Cabrini rapidly picked up speed against the Griffins owning a 37-31 advantage at halftime.

Anytime Gwynedd-Mercy started to gain speed, Cabrini put the visitors in their place.

“Winning the CSAC championship felt unbelievable because it was a tribute to how much work we have put in this whole season,” DiAmico said.

The Cavaliers led 75-65 in the final minute, avoiding Gwynedd- Mercy trying to receive fouls for the win, DiAmico passed to Ryan for a three-pointer in the corner, making the championship victory a reality. The game ended strong with the Cavs out-running the Griffins and clinching the title as CSAC champs once again.

“Gwynedd-Mercy beat us on our senior day, so we wanted revenge and wanted that game back,” Duggan said.

The Griffins’ played a competitive game against the Cavaliers, but wasn’t enough to claim the CSAC Championship title. The Cavaliers will continue on to their sixth NCAA Tournament.

“I am just so proud of these young women. They have put themselves in the best possible position to reach our goal, and that was to win the CSAC Championship and get a bid to the NCAA tournament. And I am very confident that we can do that if we continue to play as a team and continue to work hard and get better each and every day,” Laukaitis said.

The Lady Cavaliers take on Baruch College in York, Pa. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 6.

If successful, they continue on to the second round on Saturday, March 7 at 7 p.m.

“It feels great to to know that our season isn’t over. This is the culmination of what we’ve worked for all year and winning back-to-back championships is such an incredible feeling,” McLeod said.

Melissa Mariani

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