Today: Jun 25, 2024

Semifinal bound

Matt GadSports Writer

Kate Lynch’s women’s basketball squad, which went 20-8 during the
regular-season, secured the No. 1 seed out of the Northeast-10’s Southwest Division for the
conference tournament and, subsequently, a bye past last Friday’s opening round.
As long as the Owls keep winning, they will continue to play home games at Moore Field House
throughout the conference championships. Matching up against Southern New Hampshire in the
quarterfinals last Sunday, they won, 74-65, behind a career-high 38 points from senior forward
Abby Hurlbert.

“It was definitely a great win today, especially being in the playoffs, and we really needed to get
this; we need to keep getting a few wins to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament,” she said.

However, if the Owls win the NE10 Championship March 4 they get an automatic entry into the
national bracket. The program hasn’t been there since they went 25-6 in the 2011-12 season.
They would defeat Long Island C.W. Post, 58-57, and lose, 71-61, to Holy Family in the East
Regional, hosted in Waltham, Mass.

“We’ve been in the quarterfinals [of NE10s] and a couple years ago we were in the semifinals
but I didn’t play as much,” Hurlbert said.

But she did play a lot this time. Including her 38 points, Hurlbert had five rebounds, one assist
and a steal. She shot 11-20, including 7-11 from three, and also blocked a shot.
Southern New Hampshire, which came into the game at 17-11, outscored the Owls 35-26 in the
second half but ended up losing by 11. They were led by Catherine Stinson’s 13 points and
Jennifer Shelp’s 12.

“I think, defensively, in the first half we were tight but we shot well offensively,” Lynch said.
“At some point that’s not going to continue so we talked about making adjustments. SNHU’s a
good basketball team and it’s the playoffs; if you’re up 20 it doesn’t mean anything – everyone’s
fighting for their lives as a team.”

Molly Terry caught fire from three a bit out of the lockers, going 4-6, for the Penmen. However,
both teams lost their edge from three, with Southern New Hampshire only hitting at 35.7% in the
second half and the Owls also not being able to reach move than 33.3%.

“We’re not shocked at all by their comeback. Terry’s a really great shooter but Paige Decker was
able to shut down Kylie Lorenzen, one of the best players in the league,” Lynch said. “Paige’s
defensive effort today really helped us out.”

Decker didn’t show up too much on the stats sheet, only scoring five points, but she contributed
to the fact that the Penmen never came close enough to the Owls’ strong lead.

Moving forward, Hurlbert said she looks forward to the semifinal matchup with Bentley, a team
they lost to, 64-48, on Jan. 20. That game, played on the road, had Africa Williams leading the charge with 17 points. Hurlbert scored eight that day but also had four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“We’re playing at home Thursday at seven so it’s a one-two seed game and Bentley is Bentley;
they’re tough, they’re strong. Everything that everyone’s done the entire season is erased in the
playoffs so we have to come with our A-plus game.”

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