NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Poor first-half shooting and costly turnovers put the St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) women's basketball team into a double-digit deficit in their Hudson Valley Women's Athletic Conference (HVWAC) finale, but the Lady Bears pulled out a 56-53 victory over The College of New Rochelle on Tuesday evening at the CNR Wellness Center, overtaking the Blue Angels in the final two minutes.
The Lady Bears (14-10, 4-1 HVWAC)—who have won five-of-their-last six—secure the No. 2 seed in the upcoming HVWAC Tournament and a quarterfinal round bye. The Blue Angels (9-15, 2-3) finish as the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 Yeshiva on Thursday in the quarterfinal round.
Sophomore Kristin D'Chiutiis (Brooklyn, NY/Scholars Academy) led St. Joseph's scoring 15 points off the bench, 13 coming in the second stanza to spark the comeback and sinking 7-of-9 from the free throw line. Sophomore Taylor Raccuglia (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Kearney) contributed 10 points and seven rebounds and senior Janine Doran (South Ozone Park, NY/Archbishop Molloy) chipped in nine points and eight boards.
The Blue Angels were paced by five-time HVWAC Rookie of the Week Jasmine Brandon who led all scorers with 29 points and eight rebounds. Named Player of the Week earlier today, Alyssa Pechin added 13 points and swiped eight steals.
St. Joseph's led by two early after four quick points from Raccuglia, but the Lady Bears went scoreless for over six minutes allowing the Blue Angels to score 17 straight points, building a 19-4 lead, an advantage they wouldn't relinquish until the final minutes. The Lady Bears shot just 24 percent in the opening stanza (7-of-29) and 15 turnovers led to 13 points, matching the 33-20 halftime deficit.
A Brandon layup opened the second-half scoring and pushed the deficit to 15 for the third time, before the Lady Bears held the Blue Angels without a field goal for over seven minutes and chipped away the the deficit and came within two, 37-35, with 12 minutes remaining.
But St. Joseph's couldn't overcome the hosts who drew a playoff-type crowd for senior night and both squads remained intertwined in a dogfight. CNR pulled away to a six-point lead on two occasions on Brandon baskets, but the Lady Bears took their first lead since the early moments on a Samantha Retas (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Kearney) trifecta at the 3:40 mark that put St. Joseph's up 52-51.
Another Brandon layup at 2:35 put New Rochelle up one final time, before Doran put the Lady Bears up for good after Retas secured a key offensive rebound. The Blue Angels would go scoreless over the final two-and-a-half minutes, only managing one more field goal attempt and committing three costly turnovers down the stretch. A pair of Raccuglia free throws with :08 left helped preserve the Lady Bears 16-game winning streak over CNR dating back to 2000.
Both teams finished shooting poorly from the field, the Lady Bears holding a slight 29-to-28 percent edge. The Lady Bears maintained a 50-39 advantage on the glass powered by Retas' game-high 10 caroms, parlaying 17 on the offensive end into 15 second-chance points. New Rochelle took advantage of 27 St. Joseph's miscues into a 21-10 edge in points off turnovers.
St. Joseph's is currently scheduled to return to action on Saturday, February 16 in the semifinals of the 2013 HVWAC Tournament facing the winner of the No. 3 Berkeley vs. No. 6 Vaughn quarterfinal match with tip-off slated for 8 p.m. at The College of New Rochelle.