MORRISTOWN, N.J. – Junior Ashida Cooper (Bensalem, Pa.) scored 26 points and recorded six steals for the Wells College women's basketball team en route to a 73-72 victory over the College of Saint Elizabeth Sunday afternoon. With the win, Wells moves to 15-8 overall and to 11-5 within the North Eastern Athletic Conference – the Eagles fall to 9-14 and to 9-9 within the league.
Cooper shot 11-of-23 from the floor, tallying 26 points, six steals, five rebounds and three assists. Senior Holli Erkson (Cooperstown, N.Y.) posted 16 points while classmate Jasmine Thomas (Las Vegas, Nev.) picked up nine points off the bench. Sophomore Kamarie Maturine (Brooklyn, N.Y.) picked up a team-leading nine rebounds and seven points.
Despite the hosts shooting well over 50% from the floor, the Express forced Saint Elizabeth into 27 turnovers and utilized 12 steals to secure the slim victory in the waning minutes. Wells is now 4-3 all-time against Saint Elizabeth, winning its first-ever game on the road against the Eagles with Sunday's result.
The Eagles opened up a game-high four point lead through the first 2:27 as an Amerisse Rogers layup created the early 8-4 cushion. Later in the stanza, a Damaris King jumper allowed Saint Elizabeth to maintain a 14-11 lead with 5:12 remaining, but six-straight points by the Express propelled the visitors in front by a 17-14 margin.
Down 18-17 with 2:25 left in the first quarter, Wells used a 13-2 scoring run that flowed into the second quarter to create a 30-20 lead for the Express. Saint Elizabeth, however, outscored the Express by a 19-10 margin down the stretch but a Cooper jumper with 21 seconds remaining in the first half gave Wells the slimmest of halftime leads, 40-39.
Despite a Deja Ingram layup to open the second half, Wells quickly retook the lead and did not relinquish it until a 9-0 run by Saint Elizabeth was punctuated with a Danesha Triplett layup with exactly three minutes to go in regulation time, giving the Eagles a 70-68 lead.
The Wells defense stood tall, however, as a layup from senior Lindsay Achzet (Johnstown, N.Y.) tied the game and, following multiple turnovers by both teams, an Erkson layup followed a Cooper steal with 42 seconds to play to elevate Wells to the 72-70 lead. On the next possession, a Rogers layup tied the score at 72, but an Ingram foul sent Maturine to the line where she buried the second of her two free throws to create the winning advantage.
Ashley Pledger and Ingram scored 18 points for Saint Elizabeth with the latter posting 12 rebounds for the Eagles.
Wells, winners of five out of six, return home this Friday, Feb. 19 as it hosts SUNY Cobleskill at 7 p.m. in the first of two home contests to wrap up the regular season of competition.