WILMINGTON — For the first 16 minutes of Ursuline’s basketball game against Caravel on Feb. 3, the game resembled a track meet. The teams ran up and down the court nonstop, with the Raiders building up a big lead thanks to its defense and transition buckets.
The pace kept up, if not the scoring, and the Raiders would go on to a 56-39 victory over the Buccaneers.
After the visiting Buccaneers opened up an early 4-0 lead thanks to two field goals for India Johnston, the Raiders turned on the offense, with seniors Emma Raftovich and Emily Rzucidlo leading the way. Raftovich scored the Raiders’ first four points to forge a tie, and the battle was on between the two longstanding rivals.
Rzucidlo took over the scoring after that. In what would become a recurring theme, she drove the baseline for a layup to put Ursuline in front, and after a steal by Ella Gordon on the defensive end, Rzucidlo added two more after an offensive rebound. Three-point shots from Johnston and Caitlin St. Leger helped the Buch tie the score at 10, but A Rzucidlo trey was the difference as the first quarter ended with Ursuline on top, 15-12.
The Raiders opened up the lead in the second, with their rebounding and defense playing a central role. Rzucidlo scored the Raiders’ first 10 points of the quarter, with eight of them coming on four unanswered layups, in the first two and a half minutes.
After a timeout, Ursuline forced a turnover, with Rzucidlo emerging with the loose ball. This time, she fed Raftovich for a 15-foot jumper from the left wing, pushing the lead to 27-14. After two minutes without either team scoring, Ella Gordon and Raucidlo both drained three-pointers to run the Raiders’ streak to 16 points. Julia Nask scored a third-chance layup the next time down the floor for the Buccaneers to end the run. Caravel cut the deficit to 14 points before the half.
Gordon expanded the lead to 16 with a pair of free throws early in the third, but the Raiders’ shots were not falling from the field. The Bucs took advantage and climbed back into the contest.
Johnston showed off her arsenal throughout the quarter, hitting from in close and on a mid-range jumper, along with a follow of her own miss, and Julia Nask swished consecutive corner threes during a 12-2 Caravel run that brought the visitors to within six at 41-35 with 2:31 to go in the third. The Raiders’ Hannah Kelley helped stop the Bucs’ momentum with a 16-foot jumper. The lead was eight heading into the final quarter.
Caravel’s offense, however, was not effective in the fourth. The Buccaneers were held to two free throws, and Kelley added five more points for Ursuline in the quarter.
Rzucidlo led all scorers with 24, all but two of them coming in the first half. Raftovich had 14, and Gordon reached double figures with 10. The Raiders improved to 5-1 and will meet Padua on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the 76ers Fieldhouse as part of the SL24 Memorial Classic.
Johnston was the lone Buccaneer to reach double figures; she had 17. Nask had eight. Caravel (2-2) hosts Conrad on Friday at 6:15 p.m.