By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Ewing, New Jersey — The RIT Tigers won their first NCAA Tournament game in school history on Friday night. They defeated the New England Nor’Easters, 76-63, in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship at Packer Hall.
“I thought we had a really great start,” RIT head coach Amy Reed said. “I thought we played really loose in the first four minutes and made big-time shots that gave us energy. Coming out of halftime, we changed things up a bit. I thought in the third quarter, we sat on our heels a bit, then we had to re-focus and just started playing our game more.
“We wanted to get our energy up so we started to press a little bit. I thought it was a good move — and we did force them into 31 three’s and they only made seven of them. Thirty-one three’s is a lot of three’s — we made them do what we wanted them to do. Obviously, they have some really good players, who did a really nice job, but we had a really balanced effort tonight. I talked to Cori before the game and I wanted her to take over. When she takes over early, it’s easier for her the rest of the game, as she’s struggled in the past four games. She really did take over tonight, which is awesome.”
The Tigers improved to 22-6 on the season. The Nor’Easters ended their season with a 23-6 record.
RIT will play host TCNJ Lions on Saturday night at 5 pm for the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Tigers senior Jessica Glaz also become the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,474 career points.
“It’s definitely a great accomplishment in my career,” Glaz said. “I’m a lot happier that we got the win with it. I couldn’t get here without my teammates for the last four years. I’m definitely happy and excited to move on.”
New England led 4-0 to begin the game, as Olivia Shaw and Sam MacDonald scored in the paint. Glaz gave RIT a 6-4 lead. They would lead by as many as 11 points in the first quarter following a three-pointer from Cori Okada.
The Nor’Easters had the game down to five points in the second quarter. They trailed 28-23 when Ashley Coneys made a three-pointer in a fast break.
A few minutes later, Shaw made a three-pointer to cut the lead to 31-26 with 5:55 left in the quarter. RIT would lead by 10 points at halftime.
New England got the score within three points at 5:25 in the third quarter when Jocelyn Chaput made a three-point basket. Several minutes later, Okada pushed the lead to 64-48 when she made a three-pointer.
RIT led by double-digits throughout the fourth quarter.
Okada led the Tigers with 24 points. She also had three rebounds, four assists, one block, and two steals.
“It’s a great thing to be able to lead my team and be one of the core team players,” Okada said. “I also helped get my team the win.”
Okada was one of three RIT players, who scored in double-figures. Glaz had 20 points, while Sabrina Wolfe also had 11 points.
RIT had nine bench points. Brooke Stanley led the bench players with four points.
The Tigers shot 45% from the field and 42.1% from three-point range. They also shot 73.7% from the free throw line.
Coneys led the Nor’Easters with 20 points. She also had seven rebounds and two assists.
“Ashley was great,” UNE’s head coach Anthony Ewing said. “I thought she attacked the basket really well. She knocked down a couple three’s — I thought they would step off her because her percentage isn’t the best, but she’s a good shooter — she really stepped it up with a good performance tonight.”
Coneys was one of three New England players, who scored in double-figures. Shaw had 19 points, while Chaput added 16 points.
The Nor’Easters only had two bench points, all coming from Laura Holman.
New England shot 30.9% from the field. They were 22.6% from three-point range and went 63.6% from the free throw line.