Women's Basketball Battles Tough in 69-65 Double-OT Setback to #6 Bentley in NE-10 Semis
Jewel White had 14 points and 18 rebounds, marking her 10th-straight double-figure rebounding game
WALTHAM, Mass. (March 1, 2012) -- The Franklin Pierce University women's basketball team battled valiantly on Thursday night in the Northeast-10 Conference semifinals, but the Ravens came up just short in a tough 69-65 double-overtime setback to top-seeded and No. 6 nationally ranked Bentley at the Dana Center in Waltham, Mass. The fourth-seeded Ravens fell to 19-9 and will await word on their NCAA Division II Tournament fate on Sunday evening during the tournament selection show. The Falcons improved to 26-3 and advanced to Sunday's championship game where they will play host to second-seeded Southern Connecticut State.
Franklin Pierce was denied its bid for a fourth-consecutive appearance in the NE-10 championship game, while Bentley will be making its second-straight appearance in the finals.
A pair of Ravens logged double-doubles, including 18 points and 10 rebounds from junior guard Tiffany Johnson (St. Albans, Vt.) and 14 points and 18 boards from senior center Jewel White (Worcester, Mass.). Classmate Lekia Cowen (Hopedale, Mass.) added 10 points.
Lauren Battista and Courtney Finn each pumped in a team-high 18 points for the Falcons, while Jacqui Brugliera netted 11.
Bentley used a strong closing surge in the first half to gain momentum in the early stages of the second half and trimmed away at Franklin Pierce's lead. White laid in a basket for the Ravens with 16:20 left to stake them to a 39-31 lead, but Bentley countered with an 11-3 run over the ensuing three minutes to knot the game at 42-all. Caleigh Crowell kick-started the run with a three-pointer from the left wing and Battista capped it with consecutive layups.
Both teams, however, went cold offensively as neither side scored for the next six-and-a-half minutes. Amanda Saab (Windham, N.H.) finally broke the dry spell with a layup at the 6:58 mark to put the Ravens back up 44-42.
Again, both teams went cold shooting for the next two minutes, but this time it was the Falcons turn to break the dry spell and they did with three-consecutive layups from Battista, Christiana Bakolas and Finn to go up 48-44 with 4:03 left, thus forcing Franklin Pierce head coach Steve Hancock to call a timeout to stem the tide.
The timeout worked as Franklin Pierce scored on its next two possessions as Cowen hit a baseline jumper and Saab tossed in another layup to knot the score at 48-48 with 3:10 to go.
Cowen converted a pair of free throws on Franklin Pierce's next trip down the court and all of a sudden the Ravens found themselves back up at 50-48 with 2:06 left. Saab hit 1-of-2 free throws moments later to push Franklin Pierce's lead out to three.
Bentley tried to tie the game on its next two possessions, but could not come up with the equalizer. However, the Falcons did get the ball with one final chance and with :06.9 left Crowell launched a three which rattled around the rim before finally dropping in to tie the game. Saab tried to lift the Ravens to victory at the buzzer, but her driving layup was too long and skidded off the back of the iron.
Bentley and Franklin Pierce traded free throws in the beginning of the first overtime as Brugliera made two for the Falcons and Johnson converted a pair for the Ravens.
Katherine Goodwin responded for Bentley at the other end of the court with a three-pointer from the right wing, but White trimmed the deficit to one with an offensive board and putback just moments later.
The Falcons got two more free throws from Goodwin to go up 58-55, but Johnson countered following a Franklin Pierce timeout with a deep triple from the top of the key to knot the score with just :23 left. Battista had a chance to give Bentley the win in the closing seconds, but her layup was strongly contested by White and the ball went out of bounds as the buzzer sounded.
Franklin Pierce, though, couldn't build on the momentum in the second OT as Bentley scored seven-straight points to open the stanza and pull out the victory. Crowell made a big three from the left corner of the baseline to propel the Falcons to victory.
Franklin Pierce ended the game by shooting 37 percent, while Bentley struggled converting just 26 percent of its attempts. The Falcons held a 50-44 advantage on the boards.
The Ravens opened the game strong and scored nine of the first 11 points, including getting a three from Johnson. They eventually took a 17-6 lead with 13:16 remaining when Cowen knocked down a trey of her own from the left wing. Cowen drained a pair of triples during the opening surge, while White and Giroud added four points apiece.
Franklin Pierce continued to have its lead hover around double-digits for the rest of the half. White converted a pair of free throws with 4:02 left to extend the Ravens advantage to 30-19, but Bentley closed out the stanza on an 8-3 run to pull within six at 33-27 at halftime. Finn sparked the Falcons closing run with six points, including a deep triple from the top of the arc.
The Ravens shot a solid 42 percent (11-of-26) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, including a strong 43 percent (6-of-14) from behind the arc. Just as impressive was Franklin Pierce's defensive effort as it limited Bentley to just 18 percent shooting in the first half (6-of-33), including a paltry nine-percent clip (1-of-11) from three-point range. The Ravens swiped four steals and blocked a trio of shots.
Giroud, Johnson and White each netted a team-best eight points in the first half for Franklin Pierce, while Finn paced Bentley's attack with 12 points.
For more information on Franklin Pierce women's basketball, please visit the team's page at athletics.franklinpierce.edu(.) To follow the program even further, please visit Franklin Pierce Athletics on YouTube (www.youtube.com/FranklinPierceSports), Twitter (www.twitter.com/FPUathletics) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceAthletics).