LARGO, MD -- The No. 2 seeded Baltimore City Panthers continued down a dominate path toward the finals today defeating the No. 6 Chesapeake Skipjacks 83-55 in the first semifinal game of the Maryland Juco Women's Basketball Tournament hosted by Prince George's Community College.
In their prior matchup this season, the Panthers came away with a 75-52 victory. The Skipjacks entered the contest looking for their second straight upset win in the tournament, but were overmatch by an impressive performance by the Panthers.
An early first possession 3-pointer made by Panthers' Bianca White was an indicator of things to come.
The Panthers, would go on to hit all four of their three-point attempts in the first quarter, in route to an 11-0 run to start the game.
Poor first quarter shooting (27.3%) and rebounding (4) from the Skipjacks prevented them from keeping it close. The Panthers would take a 26-9 lead heading into the second quarter, behind 10-of-16 shooting.
The Skipjacks came out with more intensity to start the second quarter, but were unable to cut into the lead, despite back-to-back three-pointers by Chantelle Gross.
After an impressive offensive performance in the first quarter, Baltimore City was kept under control in the second. They cooled off from three-point range (2-8) and struggled to get to the line, only attempting two free-throws in the quarter (0-2).
The most surprising outcome of the first half was the lack of offensive production from Chesapeake's star player, Emily Truitt, January's Maryland Juco Women's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Month, who attempted just one shoot and recorded zero points.
"We decided that if they were going to beat us today it would be without [Emily Truitt]," said Panthers' head coach Tara Owens. "We played 40 minutes of man to man, fronting her. We decided we would do that [all game] and take our chances. She's a very talented player and we knew with her in the game it would be tough. She shot our eyes out the last game."
Gross led the Skipjacks in scoring at the break with 12 points. Amunique Newell contributed all five of the Skipjack's assists.
The Panthers' bench depth was on full display, as White led all scorers with 16 first half points.
Baltimore City took advantage of 18 Chesapeake turnovers, scoring 14 first half points off the miscues and a 42-26 lead into the break.
If the Skipjacks were going to mount a comeback, they would Truitt to make her presence felt in the second half.
After a strong start to the quarter from the Panthers, Truitt was finally able to get on the scoresheet with 6:50 remaining in the quarter. She still struggled to settle into the game and did not add any more points in the quarter.
The Panthers kept their momentum from the first half going with a strong balanced attack.
Raven Williams got into double digits and teammates Bailee White and Raelyn Muldrow were able to contribute as well.
For Chesapeake, Chantelle Gross and Amunique Newell carried the team with six points each in the quarter alone. Baltimore got into foul trouble early, but were still able to extend their lead to 20 by the end of the frame.
The Panthers were able to jump out to a 30 point lead early on in the fourth quarter and extended it to as many as 36 with just under five minutes remaining.
Baltimore City was able to dominate in almost every facet of the game.
They scored 36 points in the paint, compared to just 16 from Chesapeake, and they outrebounded the Skipjacks 44-30.
The Panthers had five players finish in double figures, including a team high 18 from Bianca White off the bench.
"I came out with the mindset of playing my game by taking contested shots and getting my teammates involved," White said.
Dony'e Moses registered eight second half rebounds to finish with a double-double on 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Gross of Chesapeake led all scorers with 23 and also recorded six rebounds.
Chesapeake had a difficult time overcoming the depth of Baltimore City's squad.
"I thought that we kept it close for a while," Owens said. "Chesapeake kept sneaking back in and one of the conversations we had early was that we have to play 40 minutes of basketball. They're a very talented team, a very well coached team, so we had to do a lot of things right."
Truitt was stifled all day by a tough Panthers defense.
The Panthers have now recorded back-to-back dominant performances and will face the winner of Cecil College versus Harford tomorrow in the tournament final at noon.
* Andrew Feminella and Philip McCown contributed to this article.