Thomas More holds off W&J to win PAC title

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CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. – Conference Player of the Year Allison Long scored 25 points and had five assists as No. 6-ranked Thomas More held off a second-half change and defeated Washington & Jefferson, 72-59, Saturday afternoon in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference women’s basketball championship game.


It is the seventh consecutive PAC title for Thomas More (27-1), which earned the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. The tournament field will be announced Monday afternoon.


Washington & Jefferson (20-8), which is hoping for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, trailed 30-25 at halftime before Thomas More scored the first seven points of the second half to push its lead to 12 points. The Saints still led by 12 at 44-32 with less than 14 minutes remaining when W&J mounted a strong comeback, which saw the Presidents pull to within one point.


Sparked by forward Chelsea Apke and guard Alexa Del Greco, W&J put together a 14-1 run that was capped by a Valerie Dunlap’s basket from the side of the lane that cut Thomas More’s lead to 47-46 with 7:53 to play. Del Greco made two three-pointers and Apke also had six points during the surge.


Long, however, made one of her five three-pointers and Jenny Burgoyne scored seven consecutive Thomas More points as the Saints pushed their lead to 57-50 with 5:40 left.


W&J, which was 23-for-27 at the free-throw line, pulled to within 57-53 on two free throws by Kara Seamon and one from Erin Lavery. But Long, Thomas More’s senior point guard, answered with a layup and two free throws, and W&J was never closer than eight points down the stretch.


Apke and Dunlap had big games for W&J with 17 points each. Each player made nine free throws. Apke grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and Dunlap eight. Del Greco came off the bench to score 11 points.


Jill Brunsman had 10 points for Thomas More.


Long and Apke each were selected to the All-PAC first team, which was announced Friday night. Joining them on the first team are Thomas More’s Katie Kitchen, Saint Vincent’s Devin McGrath and Thiel’s Kelly Muffley.


Dunlap was selected to the second team, as was Brittany Spencer of Waynesburg, which lost to Thomas More in Friday night’s semifinals.


Receiving honorable mention were W&J’s Emily Abraham and Waynesburg’s Jessi Drayer.


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