MICHAEL COSTEINES — Staff Writer
Regulation was not enough, as the Owls defeated The College of Saint Rose Golden Knights 64-60 in overtime. The game was showcased as a quarterfinal matchup in the Northeast-10 conference tournament.
Senior Sylvonya Moore led the Owls with 17 points, including a resounding layup with 1:32 to play in the second half to tie the game at 49.
“I actually did not think I was going to get fouled on the play, I was just so focused on trying to get to the rim,” said Moore. “It was a huge play in the game and it pumped up myself and my team”
Moore’s second-half spark came after three early fouls that kept her on the bench for the last 15 minutes of the first half. The Owls stayed tough without their leading scorer and trailed by 22-21 heading into the break.
Sophomore Moni Smith-Ocran helped maintain the Owls without Moore during the first half on the glass, finishing with 16 rebounds, including nine offensive, to go along with 12 points. Junior Camille Fantini, who averaged 3.5 steals during the season to lead the conference, tallied five as the Owls forced 19 turnovers for the game. Fantini added to her all-around performance with 14 points and nine rebounds on the offensive end, including both of the Owls three-pointers of the game.
“I was very proud of our team down the stretch,” said head coach Meghan Brown. “We were determined not to lose this game and our defensive intensity picked up which got us the 50/50 balls and the hustle plays. We used that intensity as a weapon all season that other teams won’t always do.”
The Owls got away with a costly with 27 seconds in the game. Up 52-51 with freshman guard Mariah Hankton was pressured into a bad pass recovered by Ashley Rath, who turned the play into an eventual conversion of one of her two free throws. The game stayed tied to the end of regulation, with a failed halfcourt heave by the Golden Knights with just over 2.5 seconds left.
Moore and Smith-Ocran combined for 10 of the team’s 12 points during the decisive overtime period. Moore hooked up with Smith-Ocran for a layup on a fast-break dish with 42 seconds left to give the Owls a comfortable five-point cushion.
The Owls shot 32 percent for the game and eight percent behind the three-point arc. The visiting Golden Knights shot 34 percent and 25 percent from long range.
The Owls held the second-leading scorer in the conference, Ashley Rath, to 11 points on 4-16 shooting from the field. The senior came into the game averaging 18 points per game and was a first-team all conference performer.
The all-around team effort included key baseline shots from senior Lauren Allen who finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Allen also logged in a team-high 43 minutes in the back-and-forth affair.
“Our spark on defense and offense sums up our cohesiveness as a team,” said Allen. “That attitude is basically are M.O.”