WILMINGTON – Ursuline came out firing in its nonconference girls basketball game Feb. 2 at top-ranked Conrad, but the Raiders came up a bit short in the upset bid, falling, 73-62, in front of a packed gymnasium. It was the first meeting between the two schools.
The Raiders, the No. 5 team in Delaware according to 302Sports.com, got off to a good start, taking a 2-0 lead before the game officially started. Maggie Connolly drained two technical free throws as Conrad was penalized for not reporting a player uniform number change. Connolly then scored after Ursuline inbounded the ball, and the Raiders were off to a quick 4-0 start.
But the Red Wolves would flash their high-octane offense in a run-and-gun first quarter. The main weapon was freshman Stefanie Kulesza, who scored 10 points in the opening eight minutes. She showed her versatility, scoring inside a few times but also stepping out for a long-distance three-pointer. The Raiders nailed four triples of their own in the first and led, 22-19, after one.
The shooting cooled off in the second, but the pace remained furious. The Raiders extended the lead to 31-26 two and a half minutes into the second on Connolly’s second three-ball of the night and seemed to get a gift when Kulesza was forced to the bench after picking up her third foul.
That is when Conrad heated up, however. All five other Red Wolves who played in the quarter reached the scoreboard, including Jordan Rook, who had a pair of layups, and Erin Ranegan, who had entered the game to replace Kulesza. Ursuline, meanwhile, couldn’t buy a bucket, going scoreless for more than five minutes until Abby Rzucidlo hit a three-pointer in the final seconds of the half. Conrad’s lead was five.
The Red Wolves continued the offensive attack after halftime. Julie Kulesza provided the points from the outside, scoring six of her nine in the third from beyond the arc, while Ja’Nylah Whittlesey hit three from in close. The Conrad lead was 13 heading into the final eight minutes.
Whittlesey was too much inside for the Raiders. The 6-3 freshman scored eight more points in the paint in the fourth, helping to counter the revitalized Ursuline offensive attack, as the Raiders put 18 points on the board.
Connolly was all over the place for the Raiders, leading the way with 20 points – including four three-pointers – to go along with a number of rebounds and assists. Rzucidlo added 10. The Raiders made 10 three-point shots in the game. Ursuline fell to 7-9 and returns home to host St. Elizabeth on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m.
For Conrad (14-2), Julie Kulesza finished with 22 points. Whittlesey scored 20 and Stefanie Kulesza 19. The Red Wolves travel to Wilmington Charter on Thursday for a 3:30 matinee.