St. Francis Women Capture NEC Title

From St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights

The St. Francis Brooklyn Women’s Basketball Team are your 2014-15 Northeast Conference Women’s Basketball Champions after defeating Robert Morris, 77-62, in Moon Township, Pa. The Terriers are headed to the NCAA Tournament and will be going dancing.

St. Francis Brooklyn is the first team to go on the road and win all three games to be crowned Northeast Conference Champions. They are also the first #5 seed to take home the championship trophy.

This is the first championship for St. Francis Women’s Basketball in program history. Sarah Benedetti was named Most Valuable Player after scoring a career and game-high 29 points in the victory.

(Photo courtesy St. Francis College Athletic Communications)
(Photo courtesy St. Francis College Athletic Communications)

Benedetti said, “It is a great feeling. I always loved being the underdog and this is the true underdog story. It feels amazing. We have never been in this situation before, but our experience with our 4 seniors and one junior really builds our team chemistry and that helps us when we had to make big shots to win the game.”

An emotional John Thurston said after his Terriers won their first championship, “I want to thank the NEC for putting on a great tournament. They have been so helpful with every step of the way. Congratulations to Robert Morris. To have a team in the NCAA and another team make the finals, it is like us with two teams to make the championship game, your name is out there with some elite programs.”

He added, “To Sal and his staff, it is so hard to beat Robert Morris, they are extremely talented. They are so well coached and tough to prepare for. They had a great season. To Irma Garcia, we are so grateful for her dedication and support. Without her vision and support with women’ basketball, we wouldnt be here. Irma, and so many other people at St. Francis Brooklyn who have been there for years and have not been able to see a championship , we are grateful to bring them this trophy.”

Eilidh Simpson and Jaymee Veney both added 14 points and 5 rebounds a piece.St. Francis Brooklyn took a 32-29 lead into halftime. They turned it on from three-point range in the second half, converting on seven of nine from beyond the arc. As a team, the Terriers shot 10-for-17 from three point range and outscored the Colonials 30-21 from beyond the arc. Overall, St. Francis Brooklyn shot 48.2 % on 27-for-56 shooting.

Simpson said, “Robert Morris played a great game. The first half was a back and forth battle. The second half of the game we were able to pull away after Sarah made some big shots. It was an unreal feeling coming down the stretch. We went to double-overtime with Central Connecticut, so we know it is not over until that final buzzer sounds.To win with these guys is the best feeling in the world”

Veney said, “You never have a feeling of relief when you play here. Robert Morris is a great team, and they are always in it. To win on the road and beat such a great team is extremely rewarding.”

St. Francis Brooklyn and Robert Morris traded baskets in the first half, but the Terriers were able to separate themselves from the defending Northeast Conference Champion Colonials in the second half. The Terriers would lead by as many as 18 points at the 6:53 mark.

As the story has been all season, St. Francis Brooklyn was nearly perfect from thee free-throw line, shooting 13-for-14 from the charity stripe, compared to Robert Morris who shot 3-for-8 from the line.

The key stretch in this championship game started at the 11:25 mark when Benedetti hit a three, Fechko scored two layuups, then Alex Delaney and Eilidh Simpson hit back to back threes to give the Terriers a 60-44 lead with 8:29 to play.

Robert Morris would pull within 10 with 4:31 remaining after a Ashley Ravelli three-pointer. Simpson responded with a three on the next possession and the Terriers would go on to secure their first Northeast Conference Championship.