Ursinus falls to Johns Hopkins in the Centennial Conference playoffs semi-finals

Dan Bass




The fifth-seeded Bears of Ursinus fell to the top seeded Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins during the Centennial Conference playoffs on Friday night in Baltimore. The win marks the fourteenth straight win for the Blue Jays over the Bears, including three this season; a streak dating all the way back to 2017.


            Ursinus came into the game off an opening round win on the road against Washington College, in which all five starters played thirty  minutes or more in a physical, defensive battle. The opening round victory was the first for the bears since 2019, truly illustrating the work of the senior leaders on the team, and nationally praised Coach Bobbi Morgan throughout the course of the season. Despite being heavy underdogs, the bears fought to use their Cinderella momentum and create some fireworks throughout the Centennial.


            Johns Hopkins came into the game with an impressive 23-2 record, including an 18-1 conference mark, their only loss coming to co-centennial leaders, Gettysburg, back in January. The Blue Jays earned the top spot and the luxury of a bye for the conference playoffs via tiebreaker, as they aimed to get back to the conference championship for the third straight season.


            The contest began just as most would have thought, with John’s Hopkins steadily controlling both sides of the ball with their height and athleticism, jumping out to a quick double-digit lead, 15-5. However, Ursinus quickly punched back and went on a 10-3 courtesy of suffocating defense and big three-point shots from Senior, Natalie Mehl, and Sophomore, Madison Smith, to bring the game back within three at the quarter break.


            From there, the Blue Jays signature defense, that has held opponents to just 50 points per game this season, was too much for the bears to handle. Through the second and third quarters, Hopkins allowed just eight combined points, and tallied 39 of their own, putting the game in complete control for the 13th ranked team in the country. The Bears offense had an outburst of 22 points in the fourth, including eight of Chinwe Irondi’s ten total points, but the efforts were too little, too late for the upset.


            Despite the loss ending the season for the bears, there are many bright spots throughout their 2023-2024 campaign. Seniors Sarah DiLello, Kelly Grant, Alison Lisanti, Maria D’Aulerio and Natalie Mehl helped lead Ursinus to a 15-12 mark, their first winning season since 2018-2019. The bears also have a bright future ahead of them, as Junior standout, Chinwe Irondi, led the conference in points and rebounds, nearly averaging a double-double on the season, as she looks to be even more dominant next year. Coach Bobbi Morgan has a talented group of players as the bears look to establish their culture even more in the offseason.


            Johns Hopkins will advance to 24-2 on the season and look to finally get over the hump with a conference championship matchup against Gettysburg on Sunday.