The Emmanuel College women's basketball team used a balanced offensive attack that saw four players in double-figures to defeat Suffolk University, 87-58, Thursday evening in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Semifinals. With the victory, the Saints improve to 21-6 on the year while the loss puts the Rams at 18-9.
In the last two GNAC playoff meetings between the two squads, Emmanuel was able to come away victorious in each contest including an 83-67 victory in last year's GNAC Finals.
Throughout much of the first half, the action was back and forth before the Saints took control of the game over the final five minutes of the stanza to earn their 12thconsecutive trip to the GNAC Finals. A jumper by junior guard Jacqueline Vienneau (Salem, N.H.) gave the Rams their only lead of the game at 7-6 with 16:17 remaining in the opening frame before the Saints would roll off six straight points capped by a layup by senior guard Meghan Kirwan (Melrose, Mass.) to give the hosts a 12-7 cushion with 14:53 left in the half. On the ensuing possession, Vienneau would drain a three from the top of the key to pull Suffolk to within a basket, making it a 12-10 contest but it would be the closest the visitors would get the remainder of the evening.
With 12:28 left in the first half, freshman forward Lena Negri (Arlington, Va.)fed sophomore forward Liz Daley (Sharon, Mass.) on a backdoor cut to help the Saints cap an 8-2 spurt, extending their lead to 20-12.
The Rams would continue to stay within striking distance as a jumper by senior forward Meghan Black (Roslindale, Mass.) made it a two possession game at 22-18 but Kirwan would answer with a jumper of her own at the 8:21 mark to bump the Saints lead to 24-18.
Following a pair of Suffolk free throws by senior forward Mary Garon (Auburn, N.H.) to make it 28-22, EC, with 6:51 on the clock in the first period, the Saints would go on an impressive 17-5 run to close out the half. Senior shoot guard Breanna Ockimey (Philadelphia, Pa.) got the run started, nailing a three from the left wing to make it 31-22 at the 6:30 mark. A bucket by Garon make it 31-23 but the Saints would then close out the half strong, going on a 14-4 run over the final five minutes of action.
Garon would nail another pair of free throws to pull the Rams to within 10 points (35-25) with 2:31 left on the clock but another Ockimey three would add to the Saints lead to make it 38-25 with 2:19 remaining. Two more Rams free throws from Black made it 38-27 with less than two minutes to play before Emmanuel closed out the half scoring the final seven points. A layup by junior forward Laura Benvenuto (Wyckoff, N.J.) followed by a Daley layup made it 42-27. The Rams were unable to convert with their last possession as EC forced a turnover, giving the Saints one last chance to add to their lead. Ockimey came up with the ball with six seconds remaining in the half and dribbled the ball just over half court before launching up a three from beyond NBA range. Ockimey's shot found nothing but the bottom of the net as time expired to give Emmanuel a comfortable 45-27 lead heading into the halftime intermission.
The Saints would continue to add to their lead in the second half, opening the frame on a 13-3 run, sealed with a free throw by Negri to make it 58-30 with 15:11 left in the action. Daley gave Emmanuel its first 30+ point lead of the night with a left-handed layup around the 12:30 mark to put the hosts on top 65-34.
A three by sophomore guard Andrea Suffredini (Milford, Mass.) cut Emmanuel's lead to 68-43 with 9:30 left to play but it was too little too late for the visitors as the Saints would coast to the 87-58 victory.
One bright note for the Rams came with 26 seconds remaining in the contest when Black converted a jumper to record her 1,000thcareer point.
Kirwan led the way for the Saints collecting 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in the win while Ockimey also netted a team-high 15 points to go along with six rebounds. Freshman guard Britni Mikulanecz (Portland, Maine) chipped in with a career-high 12 points while Negri also finishing in double-figures with 10 points.
For the Rams, Black ended the night with a team-high 14 points while Garon finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Vienneau also ended the night in double-figures with 12 points.
With the victory, Emmanuel will be making its 12thconsecutive appearance in the GNAC finals and will host Saint Joseph's (ME) at 2:00 PM on Saturday afternoon in the championship with an NCAA tournament berth at stake. In their only meeting this season, the Saints were able to take down the Monks in a battle of unbeaten teams on February 14, 60-46.
(Story courtesy of Emmanuel College Sports Information)
View: Mobile | Desktop