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York women lose heartbreaker to John Jay, 49-47

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York women’s basketball coach Jackie Smith says her team has improved dramatically from the start of the season, even from the beginning of January. But the one thing the Lady Cardinals lack and the one thing Smith can’t teach her young group, is experience.

And in the waning seconds of a tie game against John Jay Saturday, experience was the one thing York was desperately missing.

Instead of slowing the ball down to get off a buzzer-beating shot or holding the ball for overtime, freshman point guard Esperanza Visbal, who seconds earlier made a clutch steal off a John Jay inbound, sped out of control down the floor.

Visbal forced a pass toward Tushana Watson and the ball squirted loose on the floor. John Jay sophomore December Balis came away with the loose ball and sent it ahead to a wide-open Cherith Pointer, whose layup with 0.6 seconds left in the game clinched the 49-47 win for the visiting Bloodhounds.

Just 19 seconds earlier the Lady Cardinals had one prayer answered as Watson banked in a long-range three-pointer to tie the game at 47.

“We tried to force the issue, we were looking to score,” Smith said. “We were nowhere near their basket and on their strong side. We were lucky to get the three to tie it up. We were looking for luck again and that’s a long shot. Chalk it up to a lack of experience.”

That York (4-11, 3-3 CUNYAC) was even in the position to win the game at the end was amazing, considering the Lady Cardinals trailed by 17, 31-17, at the half.

“We could have very easily packed it in there,” Smith said. “But they showed big heart and the ability to come back.”

The Lady Cardinals went on a 17-6 run to open the second quarter, capped by Tuere Mitchell’s bucket from the left blocks, to cut their deficit to just three, 37-34.

But Visbal was first whistled for a foul and then nailed with a technical foul. John Jay (5-13, 2-5) made all four free throws and extended its lead to 45-37 on a Pointer layup with 4:51 left.

York was lucky Visbal was even in the game in the final seconds. After Jennise Masseus’ second consecutive three-pointer cut John Jay’s lead to 45-44, Visbal was called for what should have been her fifth and final foul.

While the Bloodhounds’ scorer had five fouls on Visbal, York’s scorebook, the official one, only had four on Visbal and the Lady Cardinals starting point guard was allowed to stay in the game.

Pointer led John Jay with 21 points and a game-high 14 rebounds but it was York’s strong forwards Shayna Priestley (six points and 11 rebounds) and Mitchell (11 points and 13 rebounds), who dominated the offensive glass.

“They were much more aggressive rebounding and more athletic than us,” said John Jay head coach John LoSasso. “Today we were able to get good instead of lucky because we certainly weren’t lucky.”

Masseus scored a team-high 15 points, including four three-pointers, for York, which next plays at Hunter in a game scheduled for Wednesday before heading to CCNY Saturday at 2 p.m.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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