LANCASTER, Pa. – For the first time in program history, the Wells College women's basketball team will play for the North Eastern Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Championship after a 54-51 victory over the Bison of Gallaudet University on Saturday at the Horst Athletic Center. With the victory, the NEAC North Division Champions from Wells College improve to 19-7 overall on the season following a 12-2 regular season in league play. The Bison conclude their season with a 15-12 overall record alongside a league mark of 11-5.
The Express, in only their fourth year of existence as a modern day varsity program, collect their second-ever playoff victory and will play for their first NEAC title on Sunday, Mar. 2 at 3:00 p.m. on the campus of Lancaster Bible College. Wells will face-off against the host Chargers, who earlier in the season defeated the Express by a 67-58 margin in Aurora. Last season, Lancaster Bible knocked the Express out of the playoffs with a 69-50 win on Feb. 23, 2013.
Senior captain Ashley Roser (Taberg, N.Y.) recorded her 81st collegiate double-double in the game, posting a team-best 25 points alongside 11 total rebounds for Wells. Along with her 62nd double-double against a NEAC opponent, Roser stands only two double-doubles shy of tying the all-time NCAA Division III record set by Kathryn Stockbower of Swarthmore College.
Junior Kaitlynne Knapp (Port Byron, N.Y.) ranked second on the team in scoring, shooting 7-for-12 from the floor to tally 14 total points. She also accumulated three blocks, leading both teams in that category. Junior Cassie Smythe (Eden, N.Y.) led all Wells players with three assists off the bench for the Express.
After Gallaudet took the lead by a 21-17 margin with 6:27 left in the first half, both teams remained scoreless until sophomore Lindsay Achzet (Johnstown, N.Y.) converted a jump shot nearly three minutes later to cut into the Bison advantage. Wells would eventually score the half's final four points by using a Theresa Hernandez (Dewitt, N.Y.) layup and a Knapp jumper down the stretch.
Wells did not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game, scoring the first four points of the second half following an Achzet jumper and a Roser layup in the second half's first 1:29. Britny Latham added instant offense for the Bison, cutting into the Express' six point lead with 17:46 left in the second half.
Gallaudet would cut the score to two points three different times down the stretch, but the Express were able to keep the Bison at arm's length. Gallaudet, who trailed by seven points with 45 seconds left in regulation, saw back-to-back three pointers by Latham in the final 28 seconds to make things interesting. Wells, however, took advantage of a layup by Smythe with 16 seconds left on the clock to add insurance.
Gallaudet was led by Latham's 14 total points – she accounted for the majority of her damage from beyond the arc, pouring home four three-point baskets out of eight total opportunities. Lane Peters and Lindsay Stergio each racked up 10 rebounds for the Bison while Danielle Warren joined Stephanie Weiss and Stergio with four assists apiece. Latham led players from both teams with four takeaways.
Live video of Sunday's NEAC title game can be found here, courtesy of Lancaster Bible College Athletics.