Senior guard/forward Hillary Hellmann scored 22 points, including 13 during a red-hot third quarter, and graduate student forward Kara Hageman added her first double-double of the season, as the Spartans completed a 2-0 opening weekend with a 74-69 win over Chatham University at the Greg Richards Memorial Tournament in Meadville, Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday's win gave the Spartans their first 2-0 start since the 2013-14 campaign, while Chatham dropped to 3-2 on the year with the loss.
Hellmann connected on seven-of-15 shots from the floor, and her 22 points led all scorers in the game. She also made four of her nine three-point tries to move within one of the program's career record of 179 career made threes, currently held by former Spartans Jasmine Rowan (2000-04) and Evy Iacono (2009-13).
Hageman added 21 points on an efficient eight-of-11 effort from the floor, and collected 14 rebounds to match her career high. She also paced the squad with three assists in the game.
The Cougars opened up an early 12-4 lead over the Spartans, before freshmen guards Alyssa Hyland and Abbey Lawrence came off the bench to combine for a quick eight points, and cut the Chatham lead down to three, 17-14, with 2:25 left in the opening period. However, the Cougars would close out the quarter on another 12-4 run to expand their lead to 29-16 entering the second period.
CWRU locked down on defense to start the second quarter, holding the Cougars scoreless over the period's first four minutes, while a three-pointer by Hellmann and a traditional three-point play by junior guard Kendall McConico helped the team pull closer. Hellmann hit a layup off a steal by sophomore forward Emma Cain to pull the Spartans within two, 31-29 with 4:41 to play in the half, but that would be as close as the Spartans would get in the first half, and Chatham would regain a seven-point lead, 41-34, heading into halftime.
Hellmann's third-quarter surge would propel the Spartans past the Cougars during the period. She connected on three pointers on back-to-back possessions to pull CWRU within a point, 49-48, with 5:31 left in the third quarter, and after a free throw by the Cougars, she tied the game at 50-50 on a jumper with 4:19 remaining in the third. Another three by Hellmann on the next possession gave the Spartans their first lead of the game, and put her within one three-pointer of the program's career record.
The Spartans closed out the third quarter with a 56-53 lead. Chatham would battle back to take a 62-61 lead with 7:29 remaining in the game on a three pointer, but graduate student forward Mercedes Jones answered with a layup on the next possession to give CWRU the lead for good in the game. The Spartans would grab their largest lead of the game on a jumper by Lawrence with 4:05 left in the contest that extended the advantage to 70-62, en route to the five point victory.
The Spartans will complete a season-opening three game road trip on Tuesday, November 20th, when the team travels to Granville, Ohio to face Denison University. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.