By MARK LINDSLEY
(HACKENSACK) – On Monday, Feb. 12, the day after the Men’s Basketball team beat the Wagner Seahawks, the Women’s Basketball team attempted to do the same. They succeeded, but it required an epic fourth- quarter performance and a last minute 3-point shot for them to pull o the 62-61 victory.
“It was one of our best wins,” Knights Head Coach Peter Cinella said. “I am very proud of the team for battling the way they did tonight.”
The Knights scored the first four points of the game on a Lauren Francillon layup that was assisted by Madelynn Comly and a Comly layup that was assisted by Francillon. The Seahawks, who entered the game in last place in the NEC, then took charge with a 14-0 run.
The Knights finished the first quarter with seven straight points to bring the score to 14-11. The two teams then spent the entire second quarter exchanging baskets, and the Seahawks led 29-26 at the half.
The Seahawks started the second half with eight straight points, stretching their lead to 11 (37-26), but that was as big as the Knights let the lead get. They cut the lead to three before Seahawks forward Sierra Clark hit a 3-pointer to end the third quarter leading 42-36.
More than a third of the game’s points were scored in the fourth quarter, when the Seahawks went 8-15 from the oor and the Knights went 10-18. A 3-pointer by Knights guard Elise Graham pulled the Knights within three at 48-45 with 7:16 remaining.
The Seahawks wouldn’t go down without a fight and stretched their lead one more time to nine points with 5:55 left. They still had a four-point lead with 1:24 remaining, but then the Knights completed their comeback in spectacular fashion.
Francillon made a layup with 1:15 remaining, and the Knights knocked the ball out of bounds underneath their own basket with 50 seconds left on the clock. Then, Coach Cinella made the Knights’ biggest substitution of the season, taking out Amina Markovic, who had 20 points on 7-11 shooting, and putting in Courtney Blankenship for defensive purposes.
After Graham came up with a clutch blocked shot, Coach Cinella had a big decision to make.
“We thought about taking a timeout to put Markovic back in because she was having a great game,” Cinella said, “but Blankenship played clutch for us down the stretch in a lot of games last season, so we decided to leave her in.”
Blankenship rewarded her coach’s trust by nailing a cold-blooded 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to give the Knights their first lead since the first quarter. The Knights then ended the game with a perfectly played defensive possession that culminated in a Blankenship blocked shot.
“We didn’t think we would play the bench that much tonight, but Elise Graham gave us a huge lift and Courtney Blankenship played her best game of the season,” Coach Cinella said.
The two combined for 24 points on 9-16 from the eld and 4-6 from 3-point range, as well as three assists, three blocks and three plays that completed the Knights incredible comeback.
The Knights lost their next game against Robert Morris on Feb. 17, and then lost to Saint Francis U on Feb. 19. With a 7-8 division record, they haven’t clinched a spot in the NEC tournament yet, but they will try to clinch a spot against LIU Brooklyn tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the Rothman Center.