BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – For the first time in over two months, the No. 10 Queens College women's basketball team suffered defeat, falling at the hands of the NYIT Bears, 76-71, in the semifinals of the East Coast Conference (ECC) Championship on Saturday. The loss snapped the Knights' 16-game winning streak.
Queens (24-4) fell behind early and played from behind essentially throughout the entire game. NYIT (18-10) advances to ECC finals, where the Bears will take on the Molloy College Lions.
The Bears took advantage early with an 8-2 lead, and after the Knights cut the deficit to just two, NYIT went on another 8-2 run to go up, 18-10, with three minutes left in the first quarter. NYIT held Queens to just 38.9 percent shooting overall and an 0-for-3 showing from deep in the opening period, as the Bears took a 23-14 lead. Nina Vukosavljevic nailed a three-pointer with 2:38 to go until halftime, giving the Bears their largest lead of the game (15) at 39-24. The Knights then managed to end the half on a 9-2 run, capped off by a triple from ECC Player of the Year Madison Rowland, to pull the Knights within nine at the break, 41-33.
The two teams went back-and-forth to start the second half, but NYIT maintained an 11-point lead 4:42 into the third quarter, 53-42. Queens wasn't down for the count just yet, however, as the Knights went on an 11-2 run to pull within two after a three by sophomore Emer Moloney, but Vukosavljevic made a jumper just before the end of the third to bring the score to 57-53.
NYIT began the fourth quarter on an 8-2 run after back-to-back threes by Vukosavljevic to take a 65-55 lead with 7:35 to go. That's when Queens kicked it into gear, going on a 16-5 run that lasted for nearly six minutes. After a Rowland layup, senior Joya McFarland made back-to-back buckets to make it 65-61 with 6:10 to go. Three minutes later, Rowland drained another three-pointer to keep the difference at four, 70-66. Freshman Beth Bonin cut the deficit to just one with a three, and redshirt senior MacKenzie Rowland made a layup on the next possession to give Queens its first lead of the game, 71-70, with 1:03 remaining, forcing an NYIT timeout.
Margaret Knollmeyer came away with a big offensive rebound for the Bears with just 28 seconds left and made a pair of free-throws to give NYIT a 72-71 lead. Vukosavljevic added another pair of made foul shots to push the lead to three with only eight seconds remaining. Junior Merrick Rowland had a chance to tie the game with five seconds left, but she came up empty, and the Bears made two more free-throws to seal the game, 76-71.
Madison posted her 16th double-double of the year with 28 points and 12 rebounds, while MacKenzie posted her 20th double-double of the season with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Vukosavljevic scored a game-high 30 points for NYIT.
The Knights will now wait for Sunday night's NCAA Division II Championship Selection Show to see what lies ahead in the NCAA East Regional.