GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – The Queens College women's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Division II East Regional Finals on Saturday evening with a 77-67 victory over the University of the Sciences (USciences). It will be the Knights' first-ever appearance in the regional title game.
Freshman Beth Bonin scored a game-high 25 points for the Knights and added six rebounds. Senior Madison Rowland added 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with seven rebounds, five steals, four assists and three blocks. Meanwhile, redshirt senior MacKenzie Rowland recorded her 21st double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds, chipping in six assists as well.
Queens took the lead on its opening possession and made the game's first five field goals, taking a 10-0 lead before the first media timeout with 5:27 to go in the first quarter. The Knights held the Devils to a lowly 0-for-5 shooting effort during that stretch. Queens extended the lead to 11 at 16-5 with 2:39 left in the period after a layup by Bonin. USciences managed to muster the offense over the final 2:10 of the first by working its way to the free-throw line, making 6-of-7 attempts to cut Queens' lead to 16-11. The Knights shot 61.5 percent in the quarter, while limiting the Devils to just 20 percent.
Redshirt senior Joya McFarland and USciences' Alex Thomas traded three-pointers to open the second quarter, keeping the difference at five. Nearly three minutes later, McFarland made a beautiful pass to Bonin, who connected from behind the arc to push the lead back to 11 with 5:10 until half, 25-14. The Devils pulled within six with 2:35 left, but Madison immediately answered back with a jumper. After over two minutes of scoreless basketball, Bonin added a pair of foul shots before the break to give Queens a 29-19 halftime lead.
Bonin tallied 11 points in the first half to lead all scorers. Queens held USciences to just 21.7 percent shooting in the half, while the Knights hit on 46.2 percent of their shots.
The Knights took a 12-point lead 54 seconds in after layups by Bonin and MacKenzie. The Devils then went on a quick 7-0 run to come within five at 33-28, but Madison put it to an end with a three-point conversion on a layup and foul shot. That started a 9-0 run for Queens, all scored by Madison and MacKenzie, to force a USciences timeout. MacKenzie then made it a 12-0 run after drawing a foul on a layup to put the Knights up, 45-28, before the Devils finally scored to end the run.
USciences followed with a 7-0 run to come back within 10, but Madison scored five points in 13 seconds to push the lead to 50-35. Bonin scored the next five points for Queens, as the Knights took their largest lead of the game (18) and held the 18-point advantage, 57-39, at the end of the third.
Both teams started slow in the fourth quarter, but Queens maintained a double-digit lead for most of the period. The Devils worked the deficit down to 12 with 5:03 left in the game, but sophomore Emer Moloney buried a triple on the next possession to push the lead back to 15 at 63-48. A pair of three-pointers by Thomas and Colleen Walsh would bring USciences back within single digits, 63-54, with 3:30 to go, and another three by Sarah Abbonizio would cut the lead to eight, but a Madison layup and another Moloney triple gave Queens a 70-57 lead with 2:09 on the clock.
The Devils made some noise at the end, however, eventually working the deficit down to six with 37 seconds left. Bonin sealed the deal at the foul line for the Knights, making 7-of-8 free-throw attempts over the final 58 seconds to preserve the 10-point victory.
Queens shot 46.4 percent overall, while holding USciences to a 36.8 percent showing from the field. The Devils shot it better from outside, making 9-of-22 three-pointers compared to 4-of-22 for the Knights, but Queens racked up 16 more points in the paint than USciences.
The Knights advance to the regional title game, where they will play fellow East Coast Conference foe Molloy College at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 13, at Adelphi University's Center for Recreation and Sports.