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Quick Start Leads Hounds to Non-Conference Win over TCNJ

Ciara Stewart '18 drives towards the basket versus The College of New Jersey.
Ciara Stewart '18 drives towards the basket versus The College of New Jersey.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College women's basketball team opened an eight-game home stand with a quick first half that led to a 40-30 advantage at the intermission to lead the Greyhounds to a 79-73 non-conference victory over The College of New Jersey Monday evening.

The Hounds improve to 6-2 on the year after bouncing back from a Landmark Conference loss this past Saturday.

Moravian had three players in double figures led by sophomore guard Maddie Capuano, who tossed in 22 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. Graduate student forward Camille McPherson returned to the line-up after missing two games with an injury, and she had 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. Senior forward Ciara Stewart contributed a career-high 15 points to go with seven boards.

"It was huge to get Camille back tonight, especially the way she started. She was on fire and gave us a huge lift," noted Head Coach Mary Beth Spirk. "I thought it was such a great game for us to come back after a tough loss to start the conference season at Elizabethtown on Saturday. TCNJ is a really good team and is not going to lose that many games. It was a big win for us.

"Ciara "CC" was great," continued Spirk. "I know she was really disappointed with how she played on Saturday. She was active on both ends of the court, and I'm so happy for her to get some success since it is always tough to bounce back after a tough game. I thought she really was the difference for us when she got some offensive rebounds and put backs."

Senior forward Trista Cunningham added eight points and a pair of blocked shots while sophomores forward Nadine Ewald and guard Karlie Brogan both tossed in five points with Ewald adding a game-high 10 rebounds and four steals while Brogan contributed seven boards and four assists. Freshmen guards Jennifer McClave and Julia Sirotnak both had two points and two rebounds in the win.

Moravian connected on 23-of-53 field goal attempts (43.4 percent) and was out-shot from the floor by the Lions; however, the Greyhounds went 29-for-39 at the foul line (74.4) percent while TCNJ was just 8-for-11 at the charity stripe. The Blue and Grey also finished the game with a 40-25 advantage in rebounds, the squad's sixth double-digit edge in rebounds in a contest this winter.

McPherson opened the scoring with a three-pointer and Capuano followed with a trey as the Hounds opened a 6-1 lead. The Lions answered back for a 7-6 edge, their only lead of the evening. McPherson would net four straight points as Moravian moved back in front, 10-7, only to see TCNJ knot the score three times, finally at 14-14. Stewart finished the first quarter with three free throws as Moravian took a 17-14 lead after 10 minutes of action.

Sirotnak started the second quarter with a jumper before a jumper and another three-pointer from McPherson had the Greyhounds leading 25-16 just 2:25 into the period. The lead would hit double digits on a free throw by Brogan, and the Blue and Grey led by 11 points, 32-21, with 4:50 before the intermission when McPherson connected twice from the foul line. The Lions pulled back within four points but two free throws by Ewald and four points from Capuano sent Moravian to the locker room with a 40-30 lead.

Capuano and Cunningham started the second half with baskets as the Hounds pushed the lead to 14 points at 44-30, and the Blue and Grey extended the advantage to 15 points on three occasions, the final time on a jumper by McClave for a 54-39 edge with 4:07 left in the quarter. However, the Lions finished the period with a 12-5 run to cut Moravian's lead to 59-51 after 30 minutes of action.

With just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Moravian had the lead at nine points after two free throws by Ewald, and Stewart hit two more free throws with just 3:10 remaining for a 70-61 edge. The Lions would not go away and closed within three points, 74-71, on a three-pointer with 37 seconds on the clock. The Hounds would go 5-for-6 at the foul line in the final 29 seconds with Capuano and Brogan each hitting two shots and McPherson one to seal the victory.

The Greyhounds, who will not leave Bethlehem until January 17, 2018, are slated to return to action on Thursday, December 4 in a non-conference game versus Immaculata University starting at 7:00 p.m. in Johnston Hall.