March 1, 2008

Rams Fall in Skyline Finals; Mount Saint Mary Wins Ninth Straight Championship

Rams Fall in Skyline Finals; Mount Saint Mary Wins Ninth Straight Championship 

Mount Saint Mary - 67, Farmingdale State - 52 

 


Newburgh, N.Y. - Leading by three after the first twenty minutes, Mount Saint Mary College opened the second half on a 12-4 run to seize control of the game, a run that ultimately led the Blue Knights to a 67-52 victory over Farmingdale State College and their ninth consecutive Skyline Conference Championship. Mount Saint Mary improved to 25-2 overall and earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Farmingdale dropped to 19-6 overall.

After a basket by Farmingdale senior Mercedes Miller (New York, N.Y.) just seven seconds in to the second half, MSMC senior Vanessa Lawson (Kingston, N.Y.) hit a twelve-foot jumper to make the score 36-33. Junior Meredith Paggi (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) followed up with a nice move to the hoop to extend the lead to five, but Farmingdale sophomore Kimberley Blakney (Brooklyn, N.Y.) answered with a jumper to cut it back to three.

A scoreless stretch of nearly two minutes ensued before Lawson broke the ice by putting back her own miss at the 14:57 mark. Farmingdale’s drought continued for another two minutes, and MSMC sophomore Shannon Sangster (Syracuse, N.Y.) made the Rams pay. Sangster scored the next six points, surrounding two made foul shots by two baskets in the paint, to extend the Mount’s lead to 46-35 with just over thirteen minutes to play.

On several occasions down the stretch, the Rams seemed to have the potential to get back in the game, but continued to be plagued by turnovers and missed foul shots. After they had cut the deficit to eight with 9:39 to play, a turnover and a missed three-pointer allowed the Blue Knights to push the lead back to twelve. Then, trailing 56-47 with 6:16 to play, the Rams went scoreless for almost three minutes. They were 0-for-3 from the field, 0-for-2 from the line, and had three turnovers during the scoreless stretch.

The Blue Knights never led by fewer than eight points after the initial run of the second half and converted six-of-six free throws in final seventy-five seconds for the 67-52 victory.

Mount Saint Mary got off to a quick start and led by as many as fifteen (22-7) in the early going. Farmingdale chipped away at the lead, eventually cutting it to 28-25 with 4:40 to play in the half. MSMC senior Chantel Anthony (Middletown, N.Y.) answered immediately with a three-pointer that made the score 31-25. Farmingdale sophomore Gabrielle Green (North Babylon, N.Y.) hit a lay-up to make it a four-point game, but Anthony had the answer once again, nailing another triple from four feet behind the arc. The Blue Knights did not score for the final 3:55 of the first half, but Farmingdale could only close the gap to three and trailed 34-31 at the break.

Anthony finished with 13 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds on her way to being named the Skyline tournament’s most valuable player. Paggi led the Blue Knights with 17 points, shooting 6-for-10 from the field. Sangster was 6-of-9 from the floor and totaled 14 points and 5 rebounds.

Blakney and Miller tied for a team-high 15 points for the Rams. Blakney also racked up a team-high 9 rebounds and 5 assists, but shot just 6-for-25 from the floor. Miller had 7 boards but also had 7 turnovers.

Neither team did a very good job of hanging onto the ball, the Blue Knights finishing with 25 turnovers and the Rams with 24. Mount Saint Mary shot 41.8-percent from the field while the Rams shot just 34.4-percent.

With the win, the Blue Knights advance to their ninth straight NCAA Tournament. Their first round opponent and the location of the game will be announced on the morning of Monday, March 3.

***** (Story courtesy of Mount Saint Mary Sports Information Department)