Strong Bench Play Helps Lead Tampa to Victory Over PBA

Written By: Michael Brown, PBA Sports Information Director

Hayley Fields (Pictured) Led the Sailfish on Wednesday Evening with a Season-High 17 Points. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards. Hayley Fields (Pictured) Led the Sailfish on Wednesday Evening with a Season-High 17 Points. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards.

Box Score

TAMPA, Fla.- With both teams struggling to shoot the basketball well on a consistent basis on Wednesday evening at the Martinez Center, the Palm Beach Atlantic University and the University of Tampa women’s basketball teams needed production from some less than likely sources. The Spartans got just that as their bench totaled 34 points including a game-high 19 points from Sarah Wickham to lead #15-ranked UT to a 63-54 victory.

Palm Beach Atlantic (4-5) received a strong showing from sophomore guard Hayley Fields with a season-high 17 points  however it wouldn’t be enough as the Sailfish bench accounted for only three points on the night, via a Samantha Harvey three-pointer.

The game remained close in the first stanza as Palm Beach Atlantic led in the early going only to see the Lady Spartans start to make a run toward the end of the first-half. UT pushed the lead to as many as 10 points in the opening period when Catriana Messina connected on a layup with only 35 seconds left to go on top 28-18. A bucket by PBA’s Meredith Treat closed out the half as PBA went into the lockeroom trailing by only eight points at 28-20.

A quick start to the second-half for Tampa including three triples from Wickham quickly saw the UT lead balloon to as high as 18 points as Wickham’s third trey of the half found the bottom of the net with 13:16 left in the half to go up 43-25.

Back came the Sailfish however as they clawed their way back to within single digits with solid play on both ends of the floor over the next several minutes. A pair of free-throws from freshman guard Ashley Dolberry cut the Spartans lead to 56-47 with 5:52 left in the half.

Two other occasions the Fish would decrease the lead to as close as seven points however the undefeated Spartans (8-0) continued to trade baskets down the stretch and held on for the nine-point win.

After Field’s leading point total of 17 that came on 5-of-12 from the field including a 2-of-5 three-point mark and a 5-for-5 showing at the free-throw line, the Fish also saw double-figure performances from Dolberry and sophomore Selethia Jackson with 11 points each. Jackson also swatted a career-high five blocks and had four steals in 40 minutes of work.

Dolberry led the team in rebounding with seven but committed nine of the team’s 23 turnovers. UT committed 14 turnovers.

Wickham led the way with her solid shooting night with a 6-of-11 mark from the floor while knocking down 5-of-8 shots from beyond the arc. Tiara Cook and Taja Green, two talented post players for the Spartans, produced 13 and 11 points respectively. Cook came away with a double-double with 11 rebounds including seven on the offensive glass while Green just missed a double-double with nine rebounds.

For the night, UT was limited to a 30% shooting mark by the Sailfish on 21-of-70 while PBA shot 38% from the field by hitting 19-of-50 shot attempts. Both teams shot well from the charity stripe with both squads combining to miss just three free-throws in 30 attempts.

PBA will welcome in another Sunshine State Conference foe for their next outing which will be Saturday, December 12th when Florida Southern College comes to town. The women’s teams will square off at 3 p.m. followed by a 5 p.m. matchup of the FSC and PBA men’s teams. Both games will be aired live via the Sailfish Sports Network through video coverage provided by Penn Atlantic.

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