West Haven, Conn. (March 2) -- For the second straight season, the Assumption College women's basketball team advanced to the Northeast-10 Conference semifinals with a hard-fought 61-58 road win at the University of New Haven on Sunday afternoon at a packed Charger Gym. The Hounds, seeded No. 3 in the league's Northeast Division, are ranked sixth in this week's NCAA East Region rankings.
After a runner in the lane from Aquillin Hayes put the Chargers up early, the Hounds answered with a three from the left side from senior guard Shannon Ray (Yonkers, N.Y./Ursuline Academy) to jump ahead 3-2. Assumption eventually extended the lead to seven at 13-6 with 15:15 left in the opening half after a three from senior Tafanie Roye (New Britain, Conn./Capital Magnet Prep) before the Chargers answered with a 7-0 run. New Haven tied the game at 13-13 after a pair of free throws Lauren Hebert before the Assumption defense clamped down. The Hounds held the Chargers without a field goal for a span of 8:14 to key the 11-0 run that also included five points from Roye and four points from sophomore Kelly Conley (Ellington, Conn./Ellington).
New Haven closed the half on a 5-2 run though as just seven combined points were scored over the final 5:14 of the first half. The Chargers closed the lead down to six before a layup from senior captain Jamie Insel (Clinton, N.J./Voorhees) accounted for the 26-18 halftime margin.
In the first, Assumption shot just 31 percent from the field, but held the Chargers to 21.9 percent from the field, 16.7 from three-point land and forced seven turnovers. Ray and Roye led the Hounds with eight points each in the first half, while Assumption held a 26-20 edge on the boards. Briana Bradford led the Chargers with five points in the half as the starters accounted for 13 points in the period.
New Haven quickly cut the lead down to five just 1:58 into the second half on a layup from Bria Moore for the 29-24 lead before an Assumption 6-0 spurt pushed the advantage back to 11 at 35-24. With 12:51 left in the game, Roye knocked down one of her seven free throws as the Hounds led by their largest margin of 12 at 39-27. The Chargers went on a quick 6-0 run over the next 35 seconds though, capped by a Hayes layup that caused the crowd to erupt as the Chargers were within just six at 39-33.
Assumption withstood the New Haven rally though and extended the lead back out to nine at 47-38 with 8:22 remaining after Ray drained a three from in front of the Hounds bench. Assumption pulled down three offensive boards on the possession before finding Ray for the key basket. Bradford knocked down a corner three at the 6:20 mark to pull the hosts within 49-45, followed moments later by a Hayes free throw line jumper to make it a 50-47 margin with 5:32 left.
With the game a two-possession affair with under four minutes to go, Insel converted on back-to-back possessions to extend the Hound lead to 56-49 with 3:07 remaining. New Haven took advantage of three Assumption turnovers over a span of 90 seconds with four points from Hayes and a three-point play by Bradford as the Chargers made it a 58-56 margin with just 1:16 left. New Haven called timeout with 56.8 seconds left and 23 seconds on the shot clock and on the ensuing possession, Bradford launched an airball three-point attempt from the far corner that the Hounds rebounded and called timeout with 24.8 seconds on the clock.
Ray made it a two-possession game yet again with 18.6 on the clock as she converted a layup down the left side of the lane, followed by an Assumption timeout. Assumption junior Caitlin Ackerman (Nashua, N.H./Nashua South) came up with the ball after a New Haven miss on the other end and was fouled, hitting 1-of-2 at the line for the 61-56 lead. The Chargers scored on a layup as time expired to account for the 61-58 final as the Hounds advanced.
Ray led all scorers with 21 points as she was 8-for-15 shooting to go along with two assists and two steals in 33 minutes. Insel's 14-point, 10-rebound double-double was her team-leading ninth double-double of the season as she was 5-for-9 from the field and tied for the team lead in assists with three. Roye finished in double figures for the 17th time this season as had 15 points behind a 7-for-8 effort at the free throw line.
As a team, the Hounds shot 35.2 percent from the field for the game while outscoring the Chargers 15-6 from three-point land. Assumption also won the battle at the free throw line as well, outscoring New Haven 18-16 behind a 14-for-19 second half. The Hounds held the rebounding edge as well at 43-35, including 18-11 on the offensive glass.
For New Haven, Hayes and Bradford each had 17-point, eight-rebound games to go along with 12 points from Moore. The team shot 35.1 percent from the field and 20 percent from for the game, but hit 72.7 percent of its free throws and forced 17 Assumption turnovers.
With the win, the Hounds have now won a season-high six straight and improve to 18-9 overall, while the Chargers drop to 18-9 with the loss as Assumption swept both meetings this season. In addition, this marks the 10th straight Assumption victory in the series with New Haven.
In a rematch of last year's Northeast-10 Championship game, the Hounds are back in action on Thursday, March 6th at No. 1 ranked Bentley University for a 7 p.m. start at the Dana Center.
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