NEW YORK, NY – Three different players netted double figures but it wasn't enough as the Western Connecticut State University women's basketball squad's late rally came up short against non-league opponent Rowan College, 88-86, on Friday night at the Hunter College Tournament. Rookie guard Susana Almeida (Danbury, CT) poured in 21 points to lead the Colonials, while classmate Jasmin Caldwell (Mount Vernon, NY) added a double-double on 14 points and 14 rebounds. Senior Gabrielle Hurlbert (Thomaston, CT) also tacked on 14 points.
Grace Marshall paced Rowan with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting, while Nicole Mallard contributed 15.
The first half was tight as neither team led by more than four points. WestConn would hold a 20-16 advantage at the end of the opening quarter. However, Rowan retaliated to snag a 38-34 lead at the break.
Things got wild in the second half. The Colonials began the third quarter with a 14-6 run to regain a 48-44 advantage when first-year guard Ashley Rilley (Orangeburg, NY) knocked down a shot from the charity stripe.
The Profs responded with a 21-0 surge that seemed to put the game away. But the Colonials would not give up. Trailing 65-48, they responded with yet another spurt. This time they put together an 18-4 run.
Almeida would drain back-to-back trifectas from the left wing, slicing the deficit to 77-76 with just under four minutes remaining in the contest. However, Rowan would not relinquish the lead.
WestConn senior guard Genesis Torres (Stratford, CT) – who finished with nine points and eight boards – nearly connected to tie the game but her shot rolled off the iron as she was pressured on a fast break layup attempt with six seconds remaining. The Hawks then missed a pair of free throws. With the Prof's lead at 88-86, Torres caught an inbounds pass at the top of they key but could not get a shot off as she was nearly stripped of the ball as time expired.
"As a team, we have to try and keep the game simple and we are not doing that right now," said WestConn head coach Kimberley Rybczyk. "I am so proud of them for coming back down the stretch to nearly send it to overtime," she added.
With the loss, the Colonials dropped to 1-3 overall while Rowan improved to 2-0. WestConn returns to action for Day Two of the tournament in the consolation game tomorrow at Noon.