Girls basketball: Ursuline fully invested from the jump in a win over Albertus Magnus

·3 min read

NEW ROCHELLE – The message was delivered with a little attitude.

Ursuline showed up in a feisty mood Wednesday and let Albertus Magnus know it’s going to require more than a good game plan to wrestle a Section 1 title away from the Koalas this season with a decisive 66-47 victory.

The rivals are so far the favorites in Class AA.

“We came out with fire,” senior guard Meghan Casey said. “We had to prove ourselves. We had to win this game.”

Ursuline's Sophia Nascimento (10) drives to the basket in front of Magnus' Sierra Linnin (4) during girl basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.
Ursuline's Sophia Nascimento (10) drives to the basket in front of Magnus' Sierra Linnin (4) during girl basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.

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Ursuline lost for the first time in 44 games over the weekend and struggled to match the intensity and will to win Tappan Zee showed, but the Koalas opened the week with a quality win over Baldwin.

This was another noteworthy win.

Along with improved execution is a willingness to push back when opponents attempt to get physical.

“They do play much better when they’re angry,” coach Beth Wooters said. “They’ve been pretty resilient in their approach.”

And the contributions are coming from every angle.

Sophia Nascimento was an impact player at both ends. Anne Keneally filled in for an injured starter and helped the Koalas pull away in the second half with a scoring outburst. Meghan McDonald was hyperactive on the boards.

That’s a lot of help from a freshman and two sophomores.

“All of them have really helped us,” added Casey, who along with fellow Division I commit Ciara Croker headline this team. “Several players on this team are stepping up and it’s great. Everyone can see we don’t have that one standout player. When you have different girls stepping up each game, that’s a great thing for a team.”

Magnus' Allie Falesto (32) puts up a shot against Ursuline during girls basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.
Magnus' Allie Falesto (32) puts up a shot against Ursuline during girls basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.

Turning point

Kenneally hit a pair of quick 3s to kill a comeback after the Falcons closed to within three at the start of the second half. Turnovers haunted Albertus the entire game and turned Ursuline loose on the break.

The Koalas continually slipped through full-court pressure without issue, closing out the third quarter on a 12-2 run to move in front 53-34.

“We came out, played hard and didn’t get too fast,” Nascimento said. “We didn’t get nervous against the pressure. We trust each other, so it’s not just one person trying to do it all.”

Ursuline's Ciara Croker (24) puts up a shot in front of Magnus' Kaleigh McGuinness (24) during girl basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.
Ursuline's Ciara Croker (24) puts up a shot in front of Magnus' Kaleigh McGuinness (24) during girl basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.

Player of the game

Nascimento has been a revelation in the last two weeks. She collected 25 points, nine steals and six rebounds.

“I’m a freshman and new to the school, so this is all new to me,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to come as quickly as it’s come, but that’s from the coaches and my teammates, just everyone playing as hard as they can.”

Magnus' Karly Fischer (31) battles for a rebound with Ursuline's Meghan McDonald (11) and Sophia Nascimento (10) during girls basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.
Magnus' Karly Fischer (31) battles for a rebound with Ursuline's Meghan McDonald (11) and Sophia Nascimento (10) during girls basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.

By the numbers

Albertus Magnus (7-6): Sierra Linnin had 17 points, including a pair of 3s from at least 25 feet. … Karly Fischer had 10 points and six rebounds. … Allie Falesto had 11 points. … Sophia Malpeli, Kaleigh McGuinness and Gabby Ciani had two points apiece.

Ursuline (11-1): Kenneally hit four 3s and finished with 16 points. … Casey wound up with 13 points, four steals and four assists. … McDonald netted six points and grabbed 13 rebounds. … Ciara Croker scored three and Catie Croker scored one.

Magnus' Kaleigh McGuinness (24) tries to drive around Ursuline's Meghan McDonald (11) during girl basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.
Magnus' Kaleigh McGuinness (24) tries to drive around Ursuline's Meghan McDonald (11) during girl basketball action at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle Jan. 19, 2022. Ursuline won the game 66-47.

Quotable

“When I took the starters out at the end, I asked, ‘Can you beat them.’ And they said, ‘Yes.’ I told them we have to get better,” Magnus coach Pat Buckley said. “That’s not some monster out there. Credit to Ursuline for playing very well, but if you’re looking at the playoffs, it’s who plays well that day. Hopefully, that’s us.”

Mike Dougherty covers boys soccer, boys lacrosse, girls basketball and golf for The Journal News/lohud.com. He can be reached at mdougher@lohud.com, or on Twitter @hoopsmbd, @lohudlacrosse, @lohudhoopsmbd and @lohudgolf.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: lohud girls basketball: Ursuline tops Albertus Magnus