By James Bailey, Staff Writer
The top seeded St. John Fisher College women’s basketball team took down Houghton by a score of 62-46 on Feb. 23 to advance to the Empire 8 Tournament Championship game.
The Cardinals (21-5) were paced by their two senior starters, Caroline Robertson and Nicole Robinson, who lead the way with 21 and 15 points respectively.
“Caroline and ‘Colie (Robinson) both have been great seniors for us,” said first year Fisher head coach Melissa Kuberka. “The two of them, they feed off each other and if one doesn’t have the look, the other one’s finding it.”
The Cardinals controlled the game the entire distance. After finishing the first quarter up 12-7, the Cardinals ramped up the defense even further, limiting Houghton to 17 first half points and entering the locker room with a 16 point edge.
Fisher’s defense was led by Kuberka’s decision to play two six foot forwards simultaneously for large portions of the game. The combination of the six foot Robinson (three blocks) and six foot three Liga Kalnina consistently stifled the Highlanders at the rim and were complimented well in spurts by fellow six footers Olivia Baumann and Meghan Lescinskas off the bench.
“When we have our bigs in there, they take care of the boards really well for us and eventually, that creates our offense a lot of times for transitions,” said Kuberka.
The Cardinals kept the momentum running in the second half led by Robertson. The senior guard scored eight of her 21 in this frame and helped Fisher to open up a 30 point lead.
“Coming out of the half and showing everyone what we’re capable of was big,” said junior guard Erin Hulbert. “A lot of times we come out of the half and are stagnant so having momentum going into the fourth quarter is always great.”
Houghton (13-13) finished the 2017-18 season with a .500 record, a personal best for head coach Alicia Mucher in her sixth season. Friday marked Houghton’s first appearance in the Empire 8 Tournament since joining the conference in 2011.
The Cardinals will move on to face the third seeded Stevens Institute of Technology in the Empire 8 title game. Stevens defeated Sage 64-62 in Friday’s first semifinal game.
Fisher defeated Stevens in both of the teams’ regular season matchups. The Cardinals pulled off a 60-53 in Hoboken on Jan. 20 before coming home to blow out the Ducks 71-43 on Bobby Wanzer Court on Feb. 2. The Cardinals will look to make it a clean season sweep on Feb. 24 in Manning and Napier Gymnasium when they take on the Ducks for a third time. Tip off for the title game is set for 4 p.m..