WEST HARTFORD, Conn.-- No. 4 Binghamton and No. 1 Boston University advanced to the semifinals in the first session of the quarterfinal round day of the 2009 America East Women's Basketball Championship at University of Hartford's Chase Family Arena. The two teams will meet on Saturday, March 14 at 4 p.m. for the right to play for the tournament title Sunday.
In the second quarterfinal, the top-seeded Terriers narrowly escaped from eighth-seeded Albany, 77-75, in an overtime affair. The Great Danes' junior guard Britney McGee tallied a game-high 32 points, but Boston U. senior forward Jesyka Burks-Wiley, who scored 23 points, and Boston U. survived with a late comeback. The Bearcats defeated No. 4 UMBC, 66-54 in the first game of the day, led by junior guard Erica Carter's team-high 17 points. UMBC rookie Michelle Kurowski led all scorers with 23 points.
The first points of the quarterfinal between Boston U. and Albany were two free throws 20 seconds in by Boston University's All-Conference First Team member Christine Kinneary. Junior Aly Hinton gave the Terriers the early 4-0 lead with a jumper about 30 seconds later. Albany head coach Trina Patterson had to call a timeout at 17:47 when the top seed continued to roll and Terrier senior Kristi Dini sunk a three-pointer to extend the lead to 11-2.
With 16:35 on the clock, McGee hit a three-pointer to make it 12-5, but Boston U. didn't let that turn the momentum in Great Danes' favor. The Terriers continued to build a 24-11 lead by the halfway mark of the stanza, including three-pointers by 2009 America East Player of the Year, Burks-Wiley, Hinton and freshman guard Alex Young.
A jumper from just right of the key at 9:28 by senior Amarachi Umez-Eronini continued the Terrier run. The Great Danes halted it at the eight minute mark with back-to-back three-pointer by juniors Charity Iroymuanya and McGee to begin the strong Albany run. McGee hit a layup to cut the deficit to four with a little over five minutes on the clock. Albany surged and tied the game at 28 when Kim Clements hit the first of two free-throws and missed the second one. Clements put the Great Danes up, 30-28, at 2:33 with a layup from a feed from Iromuanya and McGee, who finished with 19 points in the first-half, scored two field goals to put Albany up 34-31. An offensive foul called against the Terriers with 35 seconds in the frame resulted in an Aiken field goal, for a 37-31 Great Danes advantage going into the locker rooms.
The Albany defense clamped down on Boston U. late in the half, allowing the Terriers only five points in the final 9:33 of the first frame and forcing them into 12 turnovers during the stanza.
Albany opened up the second half with a jumper from freshman Tabitha Makopondo to extend the lead to eight. The lead grew to 11 on a McGee three-pointer, before Burks-Wiley got Boston U. on the board for the first time in the second half with a lay up.
The Great Danes built a lead as high as 12 points with 13:17 left in regulation before Boston University was forced to step up for a rally.A Dini three at 6:30 to go put the Terriers within 4, and a Kerry Cashman layup from Young at the six minute mark brought Terriers to within two. With 5:36 on the clock, Kinneary was fouled by Makopondo while going up for the layup and hit both of the foul shots tie up the game. Both teams exchanged baskets for the rest of regulation, and the score was tied at 67-67 when the buzzer sounded.
Boston U. never took a lead until 20 seconds into the overtime session. It was the first Terrier lead since 3:46 remained in the first half. The Terriers hung on to the ball in the extra period, not committing any turnovers, and converted four Albany turnovers into six points to outscore the Great Danes 10-8 and advance in the tournament.
In the first game, Binghamton started on a 7-0 run, capped off by a Carter three-pointer at the 15:56 mark. Junior Carlee Cassidy scored UMBC's first two points about four and a half minutes into the game with a pair of free-throws. Kurowski scored the first Retriever field goal of the game to narrow the Bearcat lead to five points, 9-4, a minute later.
Franceski hit a short jumper in the key at 11:00 to bring the Binghamton lead to 11-6. Kurowski scored the next seven UMBC points, hitting two free throws just under the 10 minute mark and then draining a three-pointer from the left baseline to make the score 14-11, Binghamton. After two Carter free-throws, Kurowski used a feed from Meghan Colabella to hit a layup from the left side to narrow the difference to three once again, 16-13.
After consecutive UMBC turnovers that prevented the Retrievers from even bringing the ball up to their offensive end, Binghamton's lead grew to 10, 23-13, including a three from 2009 America East Rookie of the Year Andrea Holmes. Cassidy responded by going coast-to-coast, drawing the foul when hitting the layup, and successfully converting the foul shot. On the next UMBC possession, the junior drew another foul while collecting an offensive rebound and going up for the put-back. She sunk both of the ensuing free throws to bring the score to 23-18.
Binghamton junior Muffy Sadler hit a three at 5:05 and pushed the Binghamton lead back up to eight, while a Holmes trey at 3:33 extended the lead to 10. UMBC eventually widdled the deficit down to as little as five points again, but another Holmes three-pointer, one of three in the first half, at the buzzer gave the Bearcats a 35-26 lead at intermission. Binghamton finished the first 20 minutes with eight team three-pointers and attempted 21 from beyond the arc, a championship record for three's attempted in a half.
Binghamton, which racked up personal fouls in the first half, continued to run into foul trouble in the second half. Senior center Laura Franceski picked up three personal fouls in the second half and fouled out with still nine minutes to play. The Bearcats had a 12 point advantage, 49-37, at that point and Franceski, a third-team All-Conference member, finished the game with 12 rebounds and six points.
UMBC didn't get any closer than 10 points the rest of the way, and were down by as much as 16 points in the half.
Quarterfinals resume at Chase Arena Friday night at 6 p.m. when No. 2 Hartford plays No. 7 Stony Brook. The final quarterfinal contest begins at approximately 8 p.m. and will feature No. 3 Vermont and No. 6 New Hampshire.