(Posted 4:30 p.m.,
Pilypaitis rises to
the challenge in March Madness debut
By Fred Sherwin
St. Peter Knight standout Courtnay Pilypaitis was named Player of the Game for
the Vermont Catamounts in a 104-65 loss to the University of Connecticut Huskies
in the opening round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament on Sunday. Photo
Playing on the
biggest stage of her young basketball career, under the brightest spotlight in
her career and in front of the largest crowd in her career, former
St. Peter High School standout Courtnay Pilypaitis was able to rise to the occasion
on Sunday playing against the unbeaten University of Connecticut Huskies in the
opening round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
And while the University
of Vermount Catamounts were blowout 104-65 by the pre-tournament favourite Huskies,
it wasn't for a lack of effort on the part of the underdogs and Pilypaitis, in
particular, who scored more than 20 points for the third straight game.
Pilypaitis, who is
in her third year at Vermont, was 9-for-15 from the field, including four threes,
and 2-for-2 from the free throw line for a total of 24 points, but unfortunately
the 16th seeded Catamounts were totally overmatched by the number one ranked team
in the country. The game was played in front of more than 10,000 mostly Husky
Despite the lopsided
defeat, the Catamounts could take some comfort in the fact that they are one of
only six teams which have managed to score 65 or more points against the Huskies,
and they scored more points in the second half than any other team this season.
Pilypaitis said winning
the America East championship and making the NCAA tournament was a huge accomplishment
for the Catamount program which hadn't been to the NCAA tournament in nine years.
a very good team and it will help our program," said Pilypaitis who took
a philosophical approach to what transpired on the floor. "You never think
a 40 point blowout could be fun, but it was a lot of fun to get to play in that
type of atmosphere. We didn't go in there with any type of pressure on us, so
we just wanted to enjoy the moment and soak it all in. Hopefully UConn will win
it all so we can say that we got beat by the champions."
With one more year
left at Vermount, Pilypaitis would love to earn a return trip to the NCAA tournament
next year and hopefully draw a slightly higher seed. One thing that hurt the Catamounts
this season was a five game losing streak in December which hurt their ranking
considerably. An extra win here or there and the Catamounts would have been seeded
a lot higher and been able to avoid a first round Goliath such as UConn.
"I think the
big thing we learned is that every game counts no matter what point in the season
it is. Every win helps you get that higher seed which can make a big difference
in the tournament," said Pilypaitis.
With the basketball
season finally over, Pilypaitis and her teammates must know focus on their studies
and finishing out the school year. The former national U19 team member plans to
attend the national selection camp this June for the World University Games team
and the national women's team. With any luck she'll make both squads.
(This story was
made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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