(Posted March 7, 2008)

BEREA, Ohio -- Hope College was bigger, quicker, and hit more of its shots than Juniata College. That probably made the result predictable, as the Flying Dutch, undefeated and ranked no. 1 in the nation in the USA Today/ESPN Division III women's basketball poll, downed the Eagles 76-47, in their NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament First round matchup, Friday night at Baldwin-Wallace College's Ursprung Gymnasium in Berea, Ohio. Hope (28-0) took a 14-0 lead right out of the gate, and shot .542 (19-35) from the field over 40 minutes to hold Juniata at bay. "14-0 is a little frightening," said Danny Young, Juniata College head women's basketball coach. "Hope's a very good team - what can I say?" "That was something I was expecting from them. I can drill our players on what to expect and what to prepare for, but it's a different thing when you're actually out there, facing the fire so-to-speak," said Young. "They were the better team, and that was apparent when we were in a 2-3 zone and they were passing around us like we were cones." Juniata's Kelly Ashcraft (Bellefonte, Pa./State College) finally ended the Hope College run, with a jumper at the 14:03 mark of the first half. A three-pointer by Hope's Jenny Cowen expanded the margin back to 15 points, 17-2. Another Ashcraft jumper and a pair of foul shots by Claudia McDowell (Alexandria, Pa./Juniata Valley) knocked the Flying Dutch lead down to 17-6 with 11:17 remaining in the opening frame, but that was as close as the Eagles would get. Hope went into the locker room at the half with a 40-19 lead, and Juniata never pulled to within 20 of the Flying Dutch. Juniata did get its open looks at the basket, and took 53 shots - not that far below the 59 taken by Hope College. However the Eagles connected on just 26.4 percent of those (14-53), including a .192 field goal percentage (5-26) in the first half alone. "I think our girls were surprised when they did get open looks, and that they got as many as they did. I think they expected more contact when they took their shots," said Young. Twice in the second half Hope threatened to expand their margin to 30-or-more points, but each time the Eagles managed a slight surge to carve a few points out of the deficit. With Juniata trailing 53-25 with 12:44 remaining in the game, junior Emily Hauser (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) was fouled on a three-pointer, then hit the foul shot to convert the four-point play. After a pair of missed shots by each side, Hauser drained her second trey of the night, and the Hope lead was quickly down to 21 points by the 11:55 mark. "I talked to three coaches on the phone, and they all said the same thing: they (Juniata) will never quit. They won't stop. They will play so stinking hard, and that was something I told our kids before the game and kept telling them at the timeouts," said Hope College coach Brian Morehouse. Freshman Jen Hnatuck (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Trinity) led the Eagles with 12 points, while McDowell tallied with 11 points including a 9-of-10 ledger at the line. Ashcraft finished with 10 points, to round out the Eagles in double-figures. Three players also scored in double figures for Hope, led by Philana Greene and Jenny Cowen with 12 each. Carrie Snikkers chipped in with 10 points. In all, 13 of the 15 players on the Hope roster scored in the victory. The Flying Dutch outrebounded Juniata 43-26, with the Eagles' 19 turnovers converting to 17 Hope points. "It was a good experience for our kids, and a great exit for our seniors," said Young. "Hopefully, next year we can come back to the tournament, get a little better draw, and win a first round game and move on from there." -30-

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