Spartan Women Upset No. 24 Otterbein at Smokey Ballenger Classic

(L-R): Erin Hollinger and Erica Iafelice played key roles in the Spartans' upset at No. 24 Otterbein.
(L-R): Erin Hollinger and Erica Iafelice played key roles in the Spartans' upset at No. 24 Otterbein.

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Senior forward Erin Hollinger (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds as the Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team closed out its 2011 non-conference schedule with a 75-74 upset of No. 24 nationally-ranked Otterbein University in the final game of the 2011 Smokey Ballenger Classic on Thursday evening at the Rike Center.

The Spartans improve to 7-4 overall and will open University Athletic Association play versus rival Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) on Saturday, January 7 at 3:00 p.m. at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland. The Cardinals see a four-game win streak snapped and fall to 10-2.

Hollinger's 20 points give her 1,228 for her career and move her into second place on the CWRU all-time scoring list behind only 2001 graduate Erin Rogalski, who scored 1,659 points.

In addition, junior point guard Erica Iafelice (North Canton, Ohio/Canton Hoover) totaled 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Senior forward Chelsea Peck (Pittsburgh, Pa./Oakland Catholic) added 10 points, eight boards and five assists.

Case jumped out of the gate with a 10-2 run capped by an old-fashioned three-point play by Peck at 17:12. The Cardinals came back with a 14-0 run of their own and led 16-10 when Shea McCoy hit a three-pointer at 12:55. Otterbein's lead then grew to nine, at 27-18, as Bourke Kelley hit two free throws with 7:18 left in the half. But, the Spartans rallied with an 8-0 run and pulled within one when junior center Emily Mueller (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) connected on a pair of free throws at 3:30. Both sides went back-and-forth over the duration of the period and Otterbein was able to increase its advantage to four, at 35-31.

Early in the second half, the Spartans got to within one on three occasions, the last coming at 39-38 following a Peck fast-break layup at 18:49. From there, Otterbein was able to re-build its advantage to five, at 51-46, with a Hannah Day three-point play at 14:24. Undaunted, the Spartans rallied with an 8-2 run and moved ahead 54-53 when Hollinger nailed a three-pointer with 11:26 left to play. The remaining minutes then saw seven lead changes and five ties before Case moved ahead for good as freshman forward Berit Eppard (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek) hit a layup to make the score 74-72 with 44 seconds remaining.