FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Panthers Never Trail in Second Half on Way to Second NE10 Women's Basketball Title
Adelphi defeated Bentley in a battle of division winners in the Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Championship game. Here's how Sunday's title game went down -
#1 SW Adelphi 67, #1 NE Bentley 59 | BOXSCORE
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - For the second time in program history, Adelphi is Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball champions.
In a match-up of the league's No. 1 seeds, the Panthers, the Southwest Division champions and ranked No. 14 in the country in the latest WBCA Division II Poll, defeated No. 12 Bentley, the top seed from the Northeast Division, 67-59 to claim the NE10 title.
Adelphi (26-4), which led for all but 44 seconds of the game, earns an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament as regional play gets underway at campus sites next weekend.
Sierra Clark, named the NE10 Championship's Most Outstanding Player, scored 19 points and recorded her 20th double-double of the season with 10 rebounds along with three blocks. The senior forward averaged 15 points/game in three playoff contests in the tournament along with eight rebounds and three blocks per game.
"I have no words, I'm so happy," Clark said. "We've worked all season for this. We were relying on each other. Everybody was involved from top to bottom, and we all did a great job."
Joining her on the All-Championship team (pictured above) was Calli Balfour and Niajah Morgan, the latter of whom was Adelphi's second-leading scorer with 17 points (5-10 FG) and five rebounds in the final, and averaged a team-high 18.3 points/game over the three rounds of the conference tournament.
Bentley's Jen Gemma, the NE10 Player of the Year and an All-Championship selection, recorded a double-double in defeat for the Falcons with a game-high 21 points and 10 boards, while Macchi Smith briefly flirted with a triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Saint Anselm's Candace Andrews was also named to the 2017 NE10 All-Championship Team.
Gemma, who scored 12 of her team's 14 points in the opening period, kept Bentley in the contest early as Adelphi's lead never grew to greater than four points over the first 10 minutes. The Brown and Gold scored eight of the last 12 points in the first stanza, turning a 10-8 lead into a 16-12 edge before Gemma drove to the basket for two at the horn, making it a two-point game headed to the second period. The visitors kept building momentum until a Lauren Green three-pointer knotted the game at 21-21 with 8:01 to play until halftime, but the Panthers' defense stepped up from there and kept the Falcons without a field goal for nearly five minutes -- while putting together a 12-2 scoring run of their own to take a 33-23 lead on Clark's three-point play with 3:47 until halftime.
Bentley trimmed the lead once more holding the Panthers to just one Morgan bucket until the break, to trail 35-30 as the two teams headed to the locker room.
Adelphi's lead never hit double figures in the second half, as the two clubs went basket-for-basket in what would be expected in a championship matchup of the league's two No. 1 seeds. Twice in the third period, Bentley got within three, but Adelphi responded each time, and back-to-back triples from Julia Gnieser kick-started a 14-8 Adelphi run that restored a nine-point lead, 51-42 with 3:48 left in the third.
Bentley's Victoria Lux drove to the basket for two to begin the fourth, getting Bentley as close as it had been since 21-21 back in the second, but Morgan and Sierra Schrader sank shots from well behind to arc on back-to-back possessions to push the lead back to eight, kicking off a 12-5 run that gave Adelphi breathing space, 65-56 with 3:19 to play, and Adelphi held on the rest of the way to secure the program's second NE10 crown.
"I had high expectations [for this team], because the talent was there," said head coach Missy Traversi, who led the program to the top of the NE10 mountain in her first season at the helm. "I didn't know that we would gel as quickly as we did; we became a family in six months. I was just myself [coming in this season] and I have a lot of energy to give. I gave it, and they received it. They embraced what I had to teach them and...it was just a great collaboration. Defense and rebounds won us a title."
Information for this release provided by the athletic communications staff at Adelphi.
ABOUT THE NE10
The NE10 is an association of 15 diverse institutions serving student-athletes across 24 NCAA Division II sports. Together we build brilliant futures by embracing the journey of every student-athlete.
Each year, 4,500 student-athletes compete in conference championships, making the NE10 the largest DII conference in the country in terms of sport sponsorship. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the NE10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.