Fredericksburg, Va.-- The University of Mary Washington women's basketball team defeated Penn State-Altoona in its season opener on Friday, 61-41, in the opening round of the Hampton Inn South Tipoff Tournament.
The Eagles jumped out early on the Lions, grabbing an 11-3 lead just six minutes in. A couple of Sarah Listenbee layups made the lead 11, a lead which the Eagles never relinquished. Howland scored ten of her game-high 14 points in the first half. Howland forced a turnover and grabbed the steal and went end to end to score a layup, increasing the lead to 21. Howland ended the half with a flurry, hitting a layup at the end of the stanza to give the Eagles a 41-17 halftime lead.
The second half saw the Lions scratch and claw their way back, cutting into the lead, hitting a few jumpshots to open the half. Each team exchange baskets, with the Eagle lead being held steady at 17. A mini four point run, lead by a Claire Haeuptle jumper and a couple of Howland free throws gave UMW a 55-32 advantage, a lead that would hold off the Lions. Freshman Brianne Comden put the final nail in the coffin, with a layup with five minutes remaining to give the Eagles the win.
Howland stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 11 rebounds, as well as two assists and two steals. Freshman Brianne Comden poured in 12 points in her collegiate debut. The rookie from Fredericksburg added seven rebounds and went 5-18 from the field. The senior duo of Sam Partonen and Brieneke Matthes each added nine for the Eagles.
"I was excited, it was nice to get out there and play someone other than ourselves for a change," said Howland after the game. "It was good to get the rookies some playing time and get the nerves out," said head coach Deena Applebury about Comden and Megan Green. When asked what the team needs to do to get a win against Cortland St. tomorrow, coach Applebury said, "We need to work on our defensive rotations." Howland added, "If we play together, we can come out with a win tomorrow afternoon."
The team will play in the championship game of the Hampton Inn South Tipoff Tournament on Saturday. The game will begin at 3:00 p.m. following the consolation game between Virginia Wesleyan and Penn State-Altoona at 1:00 p.m.