* A huge mid-week set of games in each conference on Wednesday to check out. This one will go by conference, starting with the ECC...
* It's been two full months since Queens last tasted defeat and the Knights wrapped up the ECC title with a 78-65 decision over Bridgeport. The Knights fell into a quick 17-5 hole but ended the first quarter on an 8-0 burst and were within a digit by the half, 35-34. With the game tied at 41, QC conjured a 9-0 run to give them a lead they never lost. MacKenzie Rowland (21 points, 10 boards, 5 assists) and Madison Rowland (28 points, 8 rebounds) scored all the points in that span, helping the Knights to a 56-47 edge after three periods. The visiting Purple Knights closed the gap to five points in the final frame but came no closer, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy. Joya McFarland tossed in a career-best 21 points for Queens, now on a fourteen-game winning streak. Samnell Vonleh (23 points, 14 caroms) and Camera Miley (16 points) sparked UB, who now sit a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the ECC but are tied in the loss column with Daemen and LIU Post for that place. Queens had a big edge at the line in this one (16-23 FT; UB 5-6 FT), a contest that saw both teams shoot well (QC 51%, UB 48%).
* NYIT is on the second-longest winning streak in the ECC (four games), their latest being a 74-68 overtime decision against Molloy in Rockville Centre. The Bears (winners of back-to-back OT battles this week) tied the game thanks to a pair of free throws from Kayla Correa (10 points, 16 boards) with four seconds left in regulation (61-61) and never trailed in overtime. The Lions, who fell into third place in the ECC with the defeat, led early (13-3 and 25-10) and held the edge until an 11-0 Bears surge spanning the third and fourth periods gave them a 53-52 lead (9:11). The game stayed close but NYIT was able to push it to the extra frame, where they notched eight of the first nine points (69-62, 1:42) to assume a lead they clung onto. Julie Williams (20 points), Shanice Allen (15 points) and Margaret Knollmeyer (11 points, 12 caroms) topped the Bears stat sheet, helping the team solidify their hold on fifth place in the ECC. Kamala Thompson (19 points, 8 rebounds), Aliyah McDonald (18 points) and Ihnacinse Grady (15 points) marshalled the Lions troops. NYIT's main team stat advantage was at the line (NYIT 15-25 FT; Molloy 6-13 FT), although that was more about volume than accuracy.
* A 13-1 third period spree gave St. Thomas Aquinas the lead for keeps in their 61-46 victory over Daemen, pushing the Spartans into second place over Molloy (by a half-game) in the ECC. The Wildcats held a 26-24 lead early in the third period when STAC went on their run, capped by an Alex Bertolino three-pointer (13 points in 15 bench minutes), to go ahead 37-27 with 3:31 left in the quarter. Daemen faced a 42-29 deficit by the end of the stanza and couldn't make it up, losing their second straight game. Kaitlyn McCue added 12 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Spartans, who ruled the glass (45-32) and went to the line more often than Daemen (STAC 17-28 FT; Daemen 7-11 FT). Leah McDonell (15 points, 5 boards) was the sole Wildcat to reach double digits. The Wildcats are now dead-even with LIU Post for the final ECC playoff place.
* On that topic, LIU Post seized control over the University of the District of Columbia in the second quarter and ran off with 72-53 win to get their noses back into the playoff frame. The Pioneers used runs of 11-2 and 8-1 in the second quarter to build a 40-26 halftime bulge and they managed the game well thereafter. UDC trimmed the deficit to eight points early in the fourth period but there was no comeback for them, meaning the Firebirds have dropped seventeen games in a row. Mikaiya Moore (21 points, 8 rebounds) and Sasha Patterson (17 points, tying her career-best; 21 rebounds, setting a personal standard) led the way for the Pioneers, who hammered UDC on the glass (49-29) and out-shot them, 44%-34%. Tyra Coombs (22 points, 7 boards in 40 minutes) and Bianca White (13 points) kept the Firebirds in range to no avail.
* In the Northeast-10 Southwest Division, Adelphi won their fifth in a row, squeezing past a dogged LeMoyne, 66-60. Sierra Clark (25 points, 14 boards), Simone Hodby (17 points, 6 rebounds) and Calli Balfour (14 points, 9 caroms) were the key threats for the Panthers, who rode a 12-0 spree to a 28-24 halftime lead and then widened the gap thanks to an 8-0 third period surge (38-28, 5:39). The Dolphins hung around and were as close as four points in the final few minutes but AU was able to keep them at bay and record the victory. Joanna Dobrovosky (17 points, 9 rebounds), Ellie Leszyk (13 points, 9 caroms) and Nicole Riddick (12 points) topped LC's attack and they did enjoy a shooting edge (44%-37%). Rebounding (40-32) and free throws (AU 16-22 FT; LC 4-6 FT) were in favor of the host Panthers, however. Both teams are locked into the post season spots in the division, Adelphi having clinched the top spot at the start of the month and LeMoyne secure in third place. (Idle AIC is in between them).
* The last two NE-10 Southwest Division spots are completely up for grabs with the other four teams all alive. Pace earned a vital 76-75 overtime victory over the College of Saint Rose in Albany with Jackie Dellisanti (career-high 20 points; 7 boards) providing the winning bucket with 10.6 seconds left in the OT session. This was a close game all the way (fourteen ties and eight lead swaps) with the Setters ahead at the half, 39-33. The Golden Knights answered back after falling into a 48-33 hole (7:06 of the third period) and the teams were never separated by more than three points at any juncture in the fourth period or overtime. Alexandra Monteleone (15 points) gave Pace a 68-66 lead with 41 ticks left in regulation, only to see Karissa Birthwright (16 points, 12 boards) tie it with a put-back at the :04 mark and extend the game. Saint Rose only trailed one time in OT but it was the wrong time, the end. Morgan Sullivan gave them a 75-72 edge with 1:42 to go but two Dellisanti baskets (1:20, :10.6) put Pace ahead when it mattered; Ashley Vanderwall (23 points, 7-12 3FG) missed at the horn to end the contest. Kirsten Dodge (19 points, 10 boards, 5 rejections) added solid work for the Setters, who shot 51% overall. Staci Barrett (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Taylor Nazon (11 points, 11 assists) played well for the Golden Knights, who have now lost three in a row and hold fourth place in the division by a half-game. Pace, meanwhile, is even with Saint Rose in the loss column and dead-level with Southern Connecticut as the race heats up.
* There was plenty of drama in West Haven, too, where New Haven kept their playoff hopes alive thanks to a 60-57 win over local rivalSouthern Connecticut. The Chargers scored the last six points to nip the Owls at the tape, the key hoop an Allieyah Cubbage (13 points) basket with 16 seconds left to give the Chargers a 58-57 lead. An SCSU turnover led to a pair of Micah Womack free throws in the dying seconds to ice the win for UNH and get them within a game of the last NE-10 Southwest Division playoff spot. The Owls led 30-28 at the half in a close contest (seven ties, ten lead changes, the teams never split by more than seven points all night) and by a 35-30 count before a 19-7 UNH burst gave the home team a 49-42 lead after three periods. Taylor McLaughlin (11 points) converted a three-point play to give SCSU their last score (2:46) and a 57-54 lead, which did not hold up. McLaughlin was one of four Owls in double digits, led by Maria Wesleyj (12 points) and Kiana Stienauer (10 points, 15 boards), while Khayla Trowell (13 points) and Cubbage sparked UNH. Foul shots proved to be the main team stat differential, as New Haven (13-20 FT) got there more often than Southern Connecticut (5-9 FT).
* The NE-10 Northeast Division remained status quo, the big story being Franklin Pierce's victory over Southern New Hampshire in Rindge, 76-69. Not only did it give the Ravens their first conference win of the campaign (and snap a seventeen-game downturn), it also eliminated the Penmen from playoff contention. FPU established a 36-26 halftime lead and led by a 45-32 count when SNHU rallied to slice the arrears to 52-47 by the end of the third quarter. An 8-0 FPU flurry stretched the margin to 60-49 with 7:15 left, and although the Penemn came within four points late, the lead stood up for the home team. Mikayla Deguire (16 points, 9 boards), Dana Campbell (15 points), Cameryn Wilson (14 points) and Sarah Middleton (13 points, 7 assists) shared the load for the Ravens while Sara Ryan (19 points, 6 assists), Kylie Lorenzen (15 points) and Molly Terry (15 points) led the way for SNHU. Better shooting (48%-42%) proved to be a key element for the Ravens in this one along with being able to (finally) close out a game.
* Bentley rolled to their tenth straight win, battering St. Michael's in Vermont, 70-48. The NE-10 Northeast Division champions led all night, blasting out to a 16-2 lead and pulling into the half on top, 41-31. The Falcons held the Purple Knights to just one field goal in the third period (1-13 FG) and built a 52-33 lead as a result, locking up the win. Jen Gemma (21 points, 9 rebounds) and Lauren Green (14 points) spearheaded the Bentley attack as they grabbed ten more rebounds (45-35) and held SMC to just 32% from the floor. The Purple Knights did have one thing to smile about, Indira Evora (8 points) surpassing the 1,000-point plateau. Emily Ferreri (14 points) led SMC in scoring and despite the defeat the Purple Knights are still alone in third place in the division.
* A huge second half propelled Assumption to a 56-42 victory at Merrimack, allowing the Greyhounds to keep a share of second place in the NE-10 Northeast Division. The Warriors were the better side in the first half, claiming a 27-18 edge by the break but AC countered to slide ahead at the end of the third period, 38-37. The Hounds really took a grip on the game with a 13-2 jaunt to start the final quarter (51-39, 3:08), leaving MC no time to recover. Allison Stoddard (13 points), Jaclyn Storey (11 points) and Jo Impellizeri (10 points, 14 boards) were at the head of the line for Assumption, which was +8 on the glass (42-34) and out-shot MC, 38%-32%. Savannah Johnson (13 boards) and Denia Davis-Stewart (8 points) led the Merrimack stat sheet. The Warriors remain tied with Stonehill for fifth place in the division, one game behind St. Michael's.
* St. Anselm held their piece of second place in the NE-10 Northeast Division thanks to a 63-53 win at Stonehill. Candace Andrews (26 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 8-9 FT) was the star turn for the Hawks while Kaila Duarte (14 points, 13 boards) was an able accomplice. Stonehill led after one frame, 17-12, but St. A's rode 9-0 and 13-4 runs to bookend the second period and take a 36-28 edge into the half. The Hawks then put the game away with an 11-2 spree in the fourth quarter (63-49). Samantha Hyslip (14 points, 6 assists) and Maty Diabate (12 points, 14 boards) were the pick of the lot for the Skyhawks, who stayed right with St. Anselm in most areas except at the stripe (St. A's 17-25 FT; Stonehill 4-7 FT), which proved detrimental.
* The University of the Sciences clinched the title in the CACC South Division via a 55-49 win over Goldey-Beacom, their closest challenger coming into play. The Devils trailed at the interval (27-25) but an 11-2 start to the second half gave them the lead (36-29) for keeps. Their advantage rose to 51-41 with 6:06 left but a final push by the Lightning made it 51-47 at the 1:47 mark. That was as close as they came, though, and the Devils had their fifth straight win and the crown. Sarah Abbonizio and Alex Thomas netted 15 points each for Sciences while Colleen Walsh (9 points, 14 boards) was solid in support. Britani Bryson (12 points, 9 rebounds) and Lexi Bruno (11 points, 6 boards, 5 assists) rallied the troops for GBC but they fell short on the glass (Sciences, 43-29) and at the foul line (Sciences 16-20 FT; GBC 3-5 FF), which hurt their chances. The Lightning is tied for second place in the division with Chestnut Hill.
*Chestnut Hill did their part by beating Wilmington in Delaware, 95-85, to make it three wins on the spin and draw even with Goldey-Beacom in the CACC South Division. The Wildcats had the better first period (25-17) but the Griffins parlayed a 12-0 run in the next stanza to a 39-35 halftime lead. They led by a 71-61 count early in the fourth quarter when WU made a charge, closing the margin to 77-76 with 4:28 left. The Wildcats never got over the hump, however, as CHC responded with a 12-3 flurry (89-79, :31) to kill it off. Chestnut Hill received strong work from a number of players, including Mary Trossi (almost another triple-double with 12 points, 11 boards and 9 assists), Vicky Tumasz (27 points), Caity Kuhnen (22 points, 10 caroms) and Jaeda Wildgoose (19 points, 8 rebounds). The Griffins shot well (52% FG, 19-24 FT) and bagged sixteen more rebounds (56-40), negating a tough night in possession (25 turnovers, ten more than Wilmington). The Wildcats placed all five starters in double figures, including LaShyra Williams (25 points, 10 rebounds in 40 minutes), Jasmine Lee (17 points) and Macy Robinson (16 points, 9 boards), WU got to the line a bunch (21-31 FT) but it wasn't enough to deny CHC in this one. Even with the loss, Wilmington stayed in fourth place in the division, one game (loss column) ahead of Philadelphia.
* The battle for the CACC North crown will come down to this weekend's clash between Bloomfield and Caldwell, as both came up with wins to stay dead-locked atop the division. Bloomfield had a much sterner test as they closed the game on a 7-2 run to turn back Concordia in Bronxville, 69-65. Another tight clash (eight ties, fifteen lead changes and a spread of ten points or less) started the fourth period with the Bears ahead, 48-44. The Clippers stayed in the game and posted a 12-2 run to grab a 63-62 lead with 55 seconds left, only to see BC go back on top thanks to five free throws, 67-63 (:21). Jessica Rosalbo (19 points) cut the deficit to 67-65 but a pair of single foul shots salted the game away for Bloomfield. Tianna Smith (19 points), Zhane Robinson (16 points, 11 boards) and Morgan Taylor (16 points) carried the Bears attack while Hadiyah Black (13 points, 15 boards) and Julianne Wilkinson (12 points, 5 steals) were among the support for Rosalbo for the Clippers. Most team numbers were close but BC shaded it at the line (BC 15-19 FT; Concordia 9-15 FT) and off the window (46-36). Concordia saw their slim chance to nab third place in the division evaporate but they will be the #4 seed in the CACC North once the playoffs arrive.
* Caldwell led all the way in an 81-56 victory over Felician to make it six straight wins and eliminate the Golden Falcons from CACC North playoff contention. The Cougars (ahead 37-35 at the break) didn't really open up a serious lead until a late third period run gave them a 59-46 edge. They led 59-48 after three frames and put the hammer down with a 10-0 sortie midway through the last period. Kristen Drogsler (31 points, 6-11 3FG, 9 boards) had another terrific game to lead Caldwell, although Antoinette Pilla (16 points) and Sharell Sanders (a triple-double outing of 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) also sparkled. Kameron Stone (14 points, 8 boards) and Danelle Gibson (11 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds) kept the Golden Falcons in the game for the bulk of the evening. The Cougars shot better (45%-38%) and eclipsed Felician from deep in volume (Caldwell 12-28 3FG; Felician 6-12 3FG) to fan the flames. Caldwell visits Bloomfield on Saturday in a game almost certain to decide the divisional title.
* Although Post may be out of the post season picture, the Eagles showed their character with a 56-52 win at Dominican to snap a five-game slide. Free throws were the ticket down the stretch for Post as they scored the final five points of the game at the stripe in the last 1:50 to prevail. Rebecca Rabeiro (19 points, 9 steals) put the Chargers ahead for the final time with 2:16 left, 52-51, but DC didn't score again. Deasia Acklin (11 points) made a single free throw and Gabriela Middleton hit a pair to put Post on top with 1:13 to play (54-52) and Taylor Ceballos iced it with two more charity tosses in the dying seconds. DC had the better of it early (25-13 after one period) but Post held them to 1-14 from the floor in the second quarter, out-scoring the Chargers, 16-3, to claim a 29-28 halftime advantage. The game stayed close thereafter with Post timing their finish well. Tyra Jones (18 points, 8 boards) topped the Post scoring as they shot an even 50% and sank 13-17 at the line as a unit. Lisa Bouffard added ten points for Dominican, which shot only 37%. The Chargers are secure in third place in the CACC North ladder as the playoffs approach, so the loss isn't too damaging.
* The first NCAA Division II East Regional rankings were released yesterday with Adelphi, Queens and Bentley the top three teams. Caldwell, Molloy, Sciences, St. Anselm and Assumption comprise the rest of the top eight teams while Bloomfield and AIC sit at #9-#10.