NCAA dreams still alive for St. Francis
Terrier Ladies Stun No. 1 CCSU to Reach NEC Tourney Final
For those who thought St. Francis Brooklyn’s hope of enjoying March Madness on the NCAA level ended when Lowell Ulmer’s desperation heave bounded off the back rim Tuesday night at the Pope Center as the buzzer sounded on the NEC Tournament men’s championship game, think again.
The St. Francis ladies are intent on punching their first-ever ticket to the Big Dance on Sunday afternoon against none other than Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pa.
Jaymee Veney scored 24 points and fellow senior standout Sarah Benedetti added 17, including a clutch 3-pointer in the first overtime, as SFC outlasted top-seeded Central Connecticut State, 71-63, in two extra sessions Wednesday night en route to a berth in the NEC Final.
“It was a great game that was close the entire way,” said SFC head coach John Thurston after his red-hot team won its fourth in a row.
“I thought it was a great show for Northeast Conference Women’s Basketball with a double-overtime game, and big shot after big shot,” added Thurston, who will now try to avenge the Terriers’ devastating 66-63 loss to RMU in front of 1,000 Brooklyn basketball fanatics at the Pope on Tuesday night.
Junior Leah Fechko added 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and senior Eildih Simpson had 11 points and a career-best 10 boards for the Terriers, who never wavered in their belief that this could be a special season despite a 14-18 regular season.
“I am proud of our team because it is easy to get demoralized at the end of regulation,” Thurston noted. “I was most happy with the way we responded from that. You really have to stress scoring first in overtime, and we were able to score first in both overtimes.”
“One of the biggest things is leadership,” added Veney. “When we got to the first overtime, coach looked at us and said you have five more minutes, then again at the start of the second overtime, he said the same thing. He never put his head down which motivated us. Our captains (Katie Fox and Eilidh Simpson) they kept pushing us to go on.”
One more win and they’ll go where no St. Francis hoops team has ever gone before.
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