In order to avoid its first 0-2 start in five years, McDaniel's women's basketball team needed to figure out a way to keep Mount Aloysius' constant barrage of 3-pointers from tilting the momentum in Friday's Tip-Off Tournament at Gill Center.
So the Green Terror unveiled a potent perimeter game of their own. And it turned into a one-player show for the home team.
Halle Burgess returned to McDaniel after dealing with pneumonia, and the sophomore guard had herself a solid season opener. Burgess canned five 3-pointers and led the Terror past the Mounties 73-63.
"I was itching to get back on the court," said Burgess, who poured in a career-high 20 points after missing time during the preseason and Tuesday's season opener. "I was ready to go. I wasn't going to let anything hold me back from playing."
The sophomore guard from Good Counsel gave McDaniel a big boost off the bench, particularly in the second half. Mount Aloysius led 40-32 early in the third quarter after using a 21-9 run to get back into the game. The Green Terror's hot start fizzled out, and the Mounties started hitting from long range.
Abby Kulick drained a 3 with 4:03 remaining in the quarter and Mount Aloysius led 45-38. That's when Burgess helped spark an 18-0 run to close out the quarter.
She scored eight of her 10 third-quarter points during that stretch — a 3-pointer at the 3-minute mark, a pair of layups with 1:46 to go, and another 3 with 1:02 left.
Burgess hit one more 3-pointer, a clincher of sorts with 5:25 remaining in the game. Her long-distance shot put McDaniel (1-1) up 65-50, and it got the Terror fans sitting behind the basket on their feet.
Junior guard Jasmine Smith had 16 points and seven assists, and senior forward Karli Zeps had 14 points and five steals. Smith, who added five rebounds, said having Burgess back on the court paid big dividends.
"It felt amazing, really, because we had been missing that 3-point shooter, that outside presence," said Smith, who hit the only 3 she attempted. "And with Halle back, it lifts the team up 100 percent."
Burgess was a 28 percent 3-pointer shooter last season, when she saw action in all 28 games but didn't make a start. Burgess averaged 14 minutes and 4.1 points as a reserve for the Terror. But McDaniel is likely to use her much more this season to establish its inside-outside offensive attack.
"It is going to make a difference," said Green Terror coach Becky Martin. "We knew that, and that will also give some of our freshmen a breather, and a little more confidence."
Mount Aloysius hoisted 34 3-pointers and made 13 of them, and seven different players took a 3. Freshman forward Jessa Wright led the Mounties (0-1) with 14 points but shot 3-for-11 from 3-point range. Kulick finished with 12 points and sophomore guard Hannah Drenning added 10.
McDaniel led 20-6 late in the first quarter, after a Burgess 3-pointer, when Mount Aloysius stormed back. The Mounties made five 3-pointers in the second quarter, and Brenna Kendrick's 3 with 2:38 to go gave them their first lead at 30-28.
The Terror started with three frontcourt players in Zeps, senior Alyssa March, and freshman Liv Storer (McDaniel had 32 points in the paint to Mount Aloysius' eight). But they soon realized things needed to pick up from the outside if they wanted to win.
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McDaniel shot 57.7 percent in the second half to pull away.
"If we're looking [to] pass it down low then that'll be my first option instead of shooting," Burgess said. "But if they're giving me the green light to shoot outside, then I'll take that first shot if we have an opportunity."
McDaniel takes on St. Thomas today at 4 p.m. in the Tip-Off Tournament title game. The Tommies took care of Juniata in the other semifinal Friday night, 77-43
St. Thomas is ranked sixth in the country by DIII News, went 26-4 a year ago, and reached the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16. Martin said the Green Terror are going into the matchup with "nothing to lose."
"It will be a challenge, and I think it will be good for our team to play against a nationally-ranked team," Burgess said. "And to show us what we could be, potentially, this season."