Women’s Hoops Falls in NEAC Championship
February 24, 2013
The Keuka College women’s basketball team lost to only one North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) opponent during the 2012-13 season.
Unfortunately for the Storm, Keuka’s second loss to Lancaster Bible College Sunday came in the NEAC championship game and denied Keuka its fifth NCAA Division III tournament appearance in seven years. It was Keuka’s first loss in seven NEAC title game appearances.
The Storm (20-4) held a 12-point second-half lead, but the Chargers (24-4) used a 24-10 run to take the lead and held off Keuka 67-63 inside the Horst Athletic Center on the Lancaster Bible campus in Lancaster, Pa.
Junior Jessica Bandrowski (Center Moriches, NY/Center Moriches) scored 16 points with 6 rebounds and 4 assists and senior Mariah Mouzon (Elmira, NY/Elmira Free Academy) added 13 points and five rebounds in the final game of her illustrious Keuka career.
Junior Danielle Gravel (Sidney, NY/Sidney) added 10 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists while classmate Casey Chamberlain (Perry, NY/Perry) pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for the Green and Gold, who saw a 13-game win streak against NEAC opponents snapped.
The Storm, who have won six of the nine NEAC postseason championships, fall to 18-3 all-time in the NEAC tournament, by far the most wins of any school in the conference.
“I told them we played a great game and we had a great season. In this one we fell just short,” said Katie Marcella, Keuka’s head coach.
“We just got nervous and made some silly mistakes. We went away from what we had been doing on the defensive end, and went away from what we had been doing so well on the offensive end, too. They exploited it.”
Lancaster Bible receives the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament. The Storm had qualified for NCAA’s in four of the last six years.
Lauren Heliger earned Tournament MVP honors after scoring 18 points with 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Green and Gold trailed 61-60 after Heliger connected on a three-pointer with 3:10 remaining, but Mouzon scored a layup off a nice feed from Chamberlain for a 62-61 lead with 2:51 to play.
Aubrey Folger, the NEAC’s Rookie of the Year, made the front end of a one-and-one to knot the score at 62, and after Keuka missed three straight shots, Heliger and Brooklyn Wilson each went 2-for-2 on free throws to clinch the win for the Chargers, who were making their first-ever appearance in the NEAC championship game.
Sophomore Erica Pendrak (Utica, NY/New York Mills) scored 11 points and junior Taylor Szwec (Candor, NY/Candor) added eight points on 3-for-5 shooting for the Green and Gold.
Both teams shot 40 percent from the field (22-for-55), and both squads shot 75 percent or better on free throws. Lancaster connected on 75 percent (15-for-20) while the Storm hit 77.8 percent (14-for-18).
The difference came on the perimeter. Keuka shot 27.8 percent (5-for-18) on ‘3s’ while the Chargers shot 42.1 percent (8-for-19), led by Wilson, who was 5-for-12.
A suffocating Storm defense limited the Chargers to just 24.1 percent shooting in the first (7-for-29) half and took a slim 26-23 lead into halftime.
Bandrowski scored seven points with five rebounds and Szwec added seven points and four rebounds in the opening half.
Pendrak scored two baskets and Mouzon added a layup and a free throw as the Storm surged out to a 9-2 lead. The Chargers answered with a 9-0 run and led 11-9 before Gravel ended the run by swishing a ‘3’.
Szwec connected on a ‘3’ for a 15-11 lead and Mouzon hit a jumper to give Keuka an 18-16 lead with 6:30 remaining.
Heliger knotted the score on a 15-foot jumper with 2:39 remaining, but Szwec had a layup, Gravel forced a steal and fed Bandrowski for a fast-break layup and Bandrowski added another layup to give Keuka a 24-18 lead.
Wilson connected on a ‘3’ to trim the Storm lead to three, but Szwec grabbed her own miss and hit a layup for a 26-21 lead late in the half. Heliger knocked down a pair of free throws as Keuka took its three-point lead into halftime.
Mouzon buried a jumper to put the Storm ahead 28-23 early in the second, but the Chargers scored seven of the next nine points to pull even at 30.
The Storm answered with a 13-2 run as Bandrowski made a layup, Pendrak and Chamberlain each made ‘3s’, Gravel made a jumper and a lay-in and Szwec hit a free throw for a 43-31 lead with 14:26 remaining.
The resilient Chargers hung around and used an 18-8 spurt to tie the score at 53 on a ‘3’ from Wilson with 6:13 remaining. Heliger then put the Chargers up 55-53 before Bandrowski hit a pair of free throws to tie the game.
Folger put the Chargers back on top with a 3’, but on the ensuing possession, Bandrowski knocked down her only ‘3’ of the title game to tie it at 58 with 4:53 to play. But the Green and Gold weren’t able to rally and fell for just the second time in 19 games against NEAC opponents.
Lancaster Bible, the NEAC’s South Division champions, also handed Keuka a 58-50 setback on Jan. 7.
While it’s hard to think about the 2013-14 season, Marcella said she hopes the returning student-athletes can learn a valuable lesson after this close call in the championship game.
The Storm lose Mouzon, who finishes her career ranked in Keuka’s top 10 in several categories: 1,026 points (seventh all-time in school history), 789 rebounds (third), 376 made field goals (10th) and a 46.4 field goal percentage (third). Her 57 blocks are the second-most in a career since the 1999-2000 season.
“Our returners have a lot of potential and I think they know that this can be a little bit of learning lesson,” said Marcella, who just completed her first season as head coach.
“Losing Mariah is going to be tough, she stepped up a lot this year on both the offensive and defensive ends and she will be missed. But (our returners) know their potential and they know what they’re capable of. Sometimes we reach it, sometimes we don’t. We’re going to be one year older and most of them have played together, so hopefully we come back stronger next year.”