March 8, 2005
FAIRFIELD, CT - Junior guard DeSheyna Perry (Beloit, WI/Jefferson-Mo. CC) poured in a career-high 30 points, including five three-pointers, and seven steals to lead #3 seeded Robert Morris University to a 68-62 overtime win over #2 seed Sacred Heart University in a Northeast Conference Women's Basketball Tournament semifinal Tuesday night.
Seven early turnovers by Robert Morris allowed Sacred Heart to build a 15-7 lead seven minutes into the game. Sophomore forward Amanda Pape (Stamford, CT/Trinity Catholic) poured in nine of the first 15 Pioneers points, while sophomore center Jasmine Walker (Amityville, NY/Copiague) contributed four during the run. Pape finished the game as the leading scorer for the Pioneers with 16 points.
After senior Sarah McDonald (Clifton, VA/Centreville) hit a jumper for the Colonials, the Pioneers stretched their lead to 21-11 on jumpers by Colleen White (Richboro, PA/Council Rock) and sophomore Kerri Burke (Saugus, MA/Bishop Fenwick).
SHU still led by ten, 31-21 with 4:21 left in the half, after a three by Burke. It was the last points the Pioneers would have in the half as the Colonials used an 8-0 run to close within 31-29 at the intermission. Junior Tess Cooley (Memphis, TN/Coffeyville CC) started the run with a jumper with 4:21 to play.
RMU cut it to six after a steal and layup by Perry (Madison, WI/Jefferson-Mo. CC). Cooley made it 31-27 with 3:22 left in the half with another basket. The two teams traded misses until a steal and layup by junior Sugiery Monsac (Villa Maria, D.R./AZ Western JC) with :29 left cut the Pioneer lead to a single bucket going into the half. Monsac, the NEC's Player of the Year this season, finished with a double-double with 11 points and ten rebounds.
Cooley nailed the first basket of the second half for Robert Morris to tie the score at 31-31. An 8-3 spurt by the Pioneers, capped by a Burke jumper put SHU back up 39-34 with just under 15 minutes left in regulation. A 12-2 run over the next three minutes gave the Colonals a 46-41 lead with 11:48. A three by Perry with 13:06 left was the big shot, putting RMU up 42-41.
A three-pointer by Le'Sheala Dawson (San Diego, CA/Saddleback JC) with 8:51 gave the Colonials their biggest lead of the second half at 52-46. A basket and free throw by Pape with 5:39 left cut the Colonial lead to 54-53. Monsac made one of two free throws for the Colonials with 4:20 remaining to put her team back up two. A running layip by junior guard Nicolle Rubino (Port Jefferson Station, NY/Comsewogue) with 4:07 left for the Pioneers tied the score at 55-55.
A three from White with 2:12 left put the Pioneers ahead 58-55. Dawson answered for the Colonials with 1:30 left to tie the score again. Walker was fouled by Monsac with :55 left in the game but missed both free throws. Robert Morris head coach Sal Buscaglia called a timeout with :46 left to play in the game. Off the timeout, Perry missed a jumper while tightly guarded by Rubino.
SHU Coach Ed Swanson called a timeout for the Pioneers with :23 left. After the break, a runner in the lane by Burke was blocked by Cooley. RMU raced down court and called another timeout with :03 left. A last-second three-point attempt by Monsac was deflected by Walker to send the game into overtime.
Perry hit a three on the first possession of the OT for Robert Morris. A steal by Perry and a jumper put her team up 63-58 with only 40 seconds gone in the extra frame. After a Pioneer miss junior Amie Harris (Springfield, OH/Kenton Ridge) converted a layup and the Colonials lef 65-58 with 3:36 to play.
White got SHU on the board in the overtime with a hoop with 3:14 to go, but the Pioneers wouldn't score again until Jasmine Walker hit a short jumper in the lane of an offensive rebound with :22 left that cut the Colonial lead to 65-62. After the shot, RMU turned the ball over, but the Pioneers turned it over themselves and Perry was fouled on the steal. She made two free throws with :18 left to put the Pioneers away, sending Robert Morris into the NEC Championship game against #1 seed St. Francis (PA) on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
"It was a great victory for us against a quality team on their home court.," said Buscaglia. "I have to give a lot of credit to our kids. We were down three and then DeSheyna hit that three and then the girls realized they could do it. She had a great overall game but I am proud of all of them. Just two years here and we've already made the Championship game."
"I knew they would be covering Monsac, so I knew I had to step it up," said Perry. "I was hitting in the first half but got a little tired in the second half so I picked up again at the end. We made a lot of mistakes on the offensive end, but we picked it up on the defensive end to make up for it."
"We gave Robert Morris too many layup opportunities," said Swanson. "They had 29 points in the first half and we gave at least eight of them to them. Our execution down the stretch came back to bite us. They made more plays down the stretch than we did but I am proud of our kids. I'm just disappointed that we won't be playing for the championship."
In addition to Pape's 16, the Pioneers got 11 points from White. Walker finished with a double-double with 12 points and a game-high, and career-high, 15 rebounds.
"They were hitting their shots and we weren't getting hands in their face to make the shots hard," said SHU's Pape. "When you have to play against a player like Monsac, it opens things up for other players on their team."