With one of Whitman's top scorers, Essence Casey, in early foul trouble, senior captain Kelly Bilodeau proved how essential she is to the Wildcats' offense.
Bilodeau, who with Casey led Whitman in scoring last season, exploded for 19 points in the first half, 14 in the second quarter, finishing with a game-high 23 to lead Whitman over defending Long Island Class AA champion Riverhead, 69-39, Tuesday in a non-league girls basketball home game.
"We made it a point this year to defend our home court and show them what we have this year," Bilodeau said. "Last year. I was on the bench in foul trouble sometimes and different players were there to put the points in, so everyone really contributes."
In the first quarter, the teams exchanged baskets throughout, with Whitman (2-0) getting a number of second chances behind Marissa Olsen's three offensive rebounds. Bilodeau's layup on a two-on-one broke a tie at 12 in the final minute of the quarter, and Katira Jemmott's steal and breakaway layup with three seconds left made it 16-12 after one.
Early in the second, Riverhead (0-1) claimed the lead at 18-17 on Shanice Allen's personal 5-0 run, but Bilodeau answered with a three-pointer and Jemmott had back-to-back steals and layups to give Whitman a 24-18 lead. From there, Bilodeau took over, scoring Whitman's next 12 points by attacking the net and nailing two three-pointers to give the Wildcats a 40-24 halftime lead.
"I was happy to see [Bilodeau] have the big night, there's nobody that outworks her," Whitman coach Dan Trebour said. "She hit threes, attacked the rim, defended the other team's best player and attacked in transition. She scores in so many ways."
Whitman expanded its lead to 58-32 after the third with contributions from Casey and Jemmott, and in the fourth rested most of its starters after Jemmott's three made it 63-32 with 6:55 left in the game.
Bilodeau added three steals and five rebounds and Jemmott had 15 points and four steals. Casey finished with nine points and Olsen had 10 rebounds. Allen led Riverhead with 14 points.