Women's Game Recaps #82 - 3/18/19

• St. Anselm is the 2019-’19 East Regional champion after a tense, hard-fought win over fellow NE10 outfit Le Moyne, 63-61, and will move on the NCAA Division II Elite Eight next week against an opponent to be determined. How did the #7 seed complete their run through the field in Philadelphia on Monday? Let’s see…

• After upset victories over Bentley and Stonehill, St. Anselm faced another NE10 team for the regional crown in conference playoff champion Le Moyne at Bobby Morgan Arena. The 7th-seeded Hawks and the 4th-seeded Dolphins played out a cagey first period which ended with LC ahead, 13-12. The Dolphins pushed ahead by a 23-19 count with 4:42 to play in the first half after baskets from Colleen Corcoran and Emma Brinker but that four-point edge proved to be the largest one they enjoyed all night long. St. A’s tore off a 14-4 blitz to end the half, ignited by a Peyton Steinman (19 points; 12-12 FT, 10-10 in the fourth period; 40 minutes) three-pointer, to tote a 33-27 advantage into the break. They kept the momentum going after the restart, scoring the first six points to complete what ended up as a 20-4 surge and grab a game-high lead of a dozen points (39-27; 5:55). Le Moyne rallied behind their sensational guard McKayla Roberts (career-high 35 points; 13-21 FG, 6-9 3FG, 3-4 FT; 40 minutes), who notched eight points in an 11-2 jaunt to end the third quarter and bring LC back within 41-38. Another Roberts triple finished off what evolved into a 14-2 run to start the fourth quarter and knotted the contest at 41. The teams swapped leads seven times in the ensuing action with yet another Roberts hoop giving Le Moyne its final lead with 2:09 left, 52-51. The Hawks then embarked on a 7-0 run with all the points coming at the foul line, to assume the lead for good. Sara Messler (1:44) made two free throws, Shannon Ryan (1:20) made another and Steinman sank four in a row (1:06 and :28) to give St. Anselm a 58-52 lead, all the while keeping Le Moyne off the scoreboard at the other end. Corinne Poitevien (:22) scored off a Roberts feed to trim the gap to 58-54 and Roberts dropped in her final triple (:16), sandwiching a Messler foul shot, to drag LC within 59-57. Stienman kept her nerve at the stripe in the remaining time, going 4-4 to keep her team ahead while Erin Fouracre (7 points) made two foul shots and a drive, but the latter came with less than a second left, too late to deny the Hawks their first regional title in program history. Ryan (19 points, 7 rebounds; 7-13 FG, 5-6 FT) and Ashley Briggs (7 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds) lent support to Stienman for the Hawks, who got the job done at the line (25-30 FT; 16-21 in the fourth quarter) and took great care of the ball (15 assists, 6 turnovers). Roberts set a personal standard with her 35 points and became the first player in regional history to claim tournament Most Outstanding Player honors from a team which did not win the regional. Her 35 points are believed to be the most scored in a regional final (in this region, that is, which has been known as New England and Northeast prior to East) but she had minimal help, with Fouracre and Jenna Zimmerman (9 boards) supplying some pop. Still, the Dolphins generated just 26 points aside of Roberts, shooting 11-34 and missing all five three-point tries. LC also didn’t get to the line often (7-10 FT) and posted a 9/10 assist/turnover line, negating a 32-20 edge in the paint. The setback ends the Dolphins outstanding season with a program-record 26 wins and their first NE10 championship but the regional spoils head to Manchester. St. Anselm will await their opponent in the Elite Eight once all the regionals finish play.

East Regional Notes… There is a lot of history to sort through in the wake of the East Regional tournament and, naturally, a lot of it is centered on St. Anselm. The Hawks won a regional final for the first time in four tries, the other attempts coming in 1990, 1991 and 1995. Their #7 seed status is also a first; in fact, no team lower than a #3 seed had won the regional in the East prior to this season… St. Anselm is the tenth team representing the NE10 to reach the Elite Eight stage, following (alphabetically) AIC, Bentley, Franklin Pierce, Merrimack, New Haven, Pace, Southern Connecticut, Springfield and Stonehill… The win is the 13th away from their home court this season, a program record… This season marked only the fifth time in 38 years that a top seed/host has not at least reached the final game but it’s the third time in the last five seasons (2015, 2017). The other occasions, in a tournament which began in 1982, were in 1997 and 2009… The Hawks entered the regional with an 0-6 record against the three teams they eventually eliminated and they defended with vigor to prevail. Overall, St. A’s held their foes to 50.3 points a game, 33.7% shooting from the field and 14-56 (25%) from three-point land… All eight regional winners will be re-seeded for the Elite Eight but that won’t happen until after tonight’s South Central regional title is decided (#3 seed Lubbock Christian against #4 seed Angelo State). The other six regional winners await alongside St. Anselm, including Drury (#1 ranked in the country and the only #1 seed moving on to the Elite Eight), #2 seeds Southwestern Oklahoma and North Georgia, #3 seed Indiana PA (a returner from last season and the team that ended Stonehill’s season), #4 seed Azusa Pacific and fellow #7 seed Nova Southeastern.