Women's Game Recaps #77 - 3/10/19

• A trio of brand new conference champions was crowned on Sunday, two of them being first-time league festival winners. The NCAA Division II East Regional field is also set to go on Friday, with game times to be confirmed. Of the three conference title games, the best one by far was held in New Jersey, featuring a pair of Philadelphia-based teams…

• CACC tournament Most Outstanding Player Jessica Kaminski’s free throw with 51 seconds left in overtime was the difference as Jefferson shaded the University of the Sciences in a gem of a game at Caldwell, 74-73. The two powers dueled on even terrain all day long, never separated by more than six points over the course of 45 minutes and delivering a fitting finale to their conference season. The game was tied at 34 at the half but the Devils edged ahead after three periods, 56-53, and then a Colleen Walsh three-pointer gave Sciences the largest lead of the game for either side, 59-53 (8:27). The Rams battled back yet had to wait until the 1:09 mark to even matters at 68 thanks to an Erin Maher (12 points, 13 rebounds) triple. Both teams had chances to win in regulation but it wasn’t to be and overtime was required. Neither unit could take real control once there but Caitlyn Cunningham’s (17 points) hoop with 1:40 left for the Rams tied it at 73. Kaminski (19 points, 8 boards) then made 1-2 at the line to provide the final points but not the end to the drama. Jefferson secured the rebound on Kaminski’s missed second FT but Beverly Kum (16 points) misfired with 21 seconds left, allowing the Devils one more possession. Kum got a piece of Alex Thomas’ (17 points; 4-7 3FG) potentially game-winning trey at the buzzer, putting an end to the game and Sciences eighteen-game winning streak. The conference championship game overtime session was the first such game in the region since 2005, when Bentley beat Merrimack in the NE10 title contest. Irisa Ye (20 points, 7 boards, 5 assists) and Mikaela Guiliani (12 points and a career-best 10 rebounds) played key roles for the Devils, who earned the #1 regional seed and hosting duties despite the defeat. Jefferson picked up the regional #3 seed and both will enter the NCAA tournament with 29-2 records.

NYIT won its’ first-ever ECC tournament title, ironically in the last ever Battle of the Boulevard, shooting 61% from the field and beating local foe LIU Post, 80-60, in Bridgeport. The game was a win-or-go-home scenario for both teams, since an NCAA at-large tournament bid was not on the table for either entering this clash. The Bears used 7-0 and 6-0 runs to stitch together a 22-15 first quarter lead and the held it to the break, where they led 35-29. The Pioneers, playing their last ever game, were still in striking distance with 5:20 left in the third period (46-38) when the roof caved in. NYIT unfurled a game-deciding 14-0 burst at that point, extending the gap to 60-38 (1:29) and basically erasing any doubt about the outcome. Meg Knollmeyer (17 points, 10 rebounds; 6-9 FG) took home game Most Outstanding Player honors and she had plenty of help with Zoe Amalbert (14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists), Shalie Frierson (13 points), Tiara Place (11 points) and Ketisa Athias (11 points, 8 caroms; 5-6 FG) all filling major roles. Sasha Patterson (19 points, 7 rebounds) and Robyn Francis (11 points, 6 rebounds) led the Pioneers attack but their shooting paled in comparison to the Bears (30% FG) and they never really had a chance once NYIT put together the 14-0 third quarter run. Spare a thought for the Pioneers, who now cease to exist as a Division II entity, the LIU programs all being bundled into one starting next season – they will be missed. Meanwhile, NYIT will tote the ECC’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA tournament as the #8 seed and play on.

Le Moyne laid claim to its’ first NE10 crown, shooting 53% overall and 9-16 from three-point land to dethrone Bentley in Syracuse, 67-45. The Dolphins, with a program-record 24th win, locked up the Falcons at the defensive end, conceding only 36% shooting and a mere 1-20 3FG performance from the visitors. Bentley’s last lead was 4-2 as LC surged ahead after one frame, 19-14, and extended it to 38-23 at the half. By then the Dolphins had canned 6-8 from deep and shot 61.5% overall (16-26 FG) while the Falcons were 0-8 from long-range, a harbinger of things to come. Le Moyne ended the third quarter on an 8-1 binge to take a 52-30 advantage into the last period and never allowed Bentley off the canvas. Tournament Most Outstanding Player McKayla Roberts (10 points, 6 boards, 5 assists) was one of four Dolphins in double digits with Liz Millea (19 points; 7-11 FG, 4-7 3FG), Madison Purcell (11 points, 5 assists; 5-6 FG) and Corinne Poitevien (10 points) all adding to the effort. Monica Viapiano (15 points, 8 rebounds) and Amy McConnell (11 points, including Bentley’s only made trey midway through the fourth quarter) were Bentley’s only double figure scorers despite posting a 32-18 edge in the paint. The Falcons saw their fifteen-game win streak end but still annexed the #2 seed in the upcoming NCAA East Regional. Le Moyne, meanwhile, claimed the #4 seed in the regional bracket.

• The full NCAA Division II East Regional first round shapes up this way on Friday: #8 NYIT vs. #1 University of the Sciences; #7 St. Anselm vs. #2 Bentley; #6 Stonehill vs. #3 Jefferson; and #5 St. Thomas Aquinas vs. #4 Le Moyne. Bobby Morgan Arena in Philadelphia (home of the University of the Sciences) is the venue with game times (12, 2:30, 5 and 7:30) to be assigned and announced this week. Saturday’s semifinals will be at 5 and 7:30 and Monday night’s title game is set for a 7pm tip-off.