Guru's note: Bob Heller, who helps with our Philly Summer League coverage, filed this report on a local going dancing
By Robert Heller
The University of the Sciences women’s basketball team punched their ticket to the NCAA Division II Tournament Sunday afternoon, winning their first Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Tournament Championship since 2006 with a decisive 72-57 win over top seed and tournament host Caldwell University.
The Devils earn the CACC’s automatic bid with the win and improve to 26-5 on the season.
Their 26 wins is a program record, eclipsing the 24-8 mark turned in by the 2003-04 squad.
USciences earned the #6 seed in the East region when the brackets were announced Sunday night and will face #3 seed Bentley University, the Northeast-10 Tournament runner-up.
Caldwell fell to 26-5 with the loss and received an at-large bid as the #4 seed and will take on #5 Molloy College.
The other two regional games on Friday will feature #1 Adelphi facing #8 New York Institute of Technology and #2 Queens College taking on #7 Assumption University.
USciences placed four players in double figures led by First Team All-CACC player Alex Thomas, who had 17 points (5-12 FG, 6-6 FT).
Second Team all-CACC player Sarah Abbonizio added 14 points (5-12 FG) while Jordan Vitelli chipped in 16 points (6-9 FG, 4-7 3FG). Mikaela Giuliani came off the bench to score 12 points (5-8 FG).
Abbonizio was named the CACC Tournament most Valuable Player, scoring 42 points over the three games of the tournament. Joining Abbonizio on the All-Tournament team were Thomas and Vitelli.
Back to the game:
USciences and Caldwell battled through an exciting first quarter that ended in a 17-17 tie and featured three lead changes and seven ties.
In the second quarter, the Devils used a 13-2 run to take a 30-21 lead only to see the Cougars score eight straight points to claw within one 30-29. A pair of late buckets by the Devils increased their lead to 34-29 at halftime.
The Devils opened the third quarter with a 13-0 flourish to push their lead to 18, 47-29, spreading the offense and getting contributions from five different players.
USciences maintained its double digit lead the rest of the way as the Cougars would come as close as 11 points late in the fourth quarter but no closer.
After shooting a blistering 64% in their semi-final win over Bloomfield college, the Devils cooled off slightly, shooting 52.1% (25-48) for the game while making nine three-point field goals and shooting 13-17 from the free throw line.
The Devils continued their unselfish style of play, dishing out 17 assists (Laura Trisch had seven) on their 25 baskets. The team took advantage of every Caldwell turnover, scoring 15 points off seven Cougar miscues.