Waltham, Mass. – Coming down to the final two minutes of regulation, the NYIT women's basketball team and the second-seeded American International Yellow Jackets were tied for the fourteenth time in the NCAA Division II East Region semifinal game. Timely free throws and solid defense from the Bears however, led the sixth seed to a 72-69 victory to advance to the program's first ever East Region Championship. The Yellow Jackets conclude their season at 26-6 as NYIT continues to roll at 28-6 overall.
Leading all players was captain Dina Ragab, who concluded the contest with 19 points and eight rebounds. Two other players reached double-digit point figures in Shanice Allen andNina Vukosavljevic with 18 and 15, respectively. Vukosavljevic also dished out eight assists and added a block and a steal. For the game, the winners shot 60 percent (9-for-15) from three-point range and outshot the Yellow Jackets 44 to 40 percent. Top-scorer for AIC was Kamika Mason who notched the games only double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
In the same fashion as the NCAA Division II quarterfinal, Allen got the Bears on the board first with a three-pointer from the corner but AIC came back with five unanswered points to take the lead. In the first half alone the score was tied seven times with nine lead changes. A Yellow Jacket turnover led way to a fast break, and-one situation for Vukosavljevic who put momentum back with NYIT.
Allen drained her second three of the game at the 24 second mark to take a four-point lead but Brianna Bishop of AIC made both free throws to be trailing by two at the conclusion of the quarter. Audrey Knowlton came off the bench and knocked down a tre of her own at 6:24 to bring the Bears out front by four but the Yellow Jackets had the answers, making the margin to five. Kesi Goree had one bucket in the frame, a three from the corner at the buzzer to bring the Bears within one as the teams broke for their respective locker rooms.
Coming out of the half, Ragab made back-to-back free throws to start the third quarter but after 6:55, NYIT was kept trailing, as AIC took advantage of miscues from the Bears. The Black and Gold scored 11 points from the bench and grabbed six points off turnovers.
Vukosaljevic passed the ball to a lone Allen to start the final frame with which she knocked down another three-pointer to knot the game at 56-56. Three of the Bears first four shots in the fourth were three and the one before the last media timeout out of the hands of Williams gave NYIT a 64-62 advantage. The teams were tied four more times in the game (nine minutes total for the contest) all before the two-minute mark but back-to-back free throws courtesy of Allen gave NYIT a 70-69 lead.
AIC picked up a turnover from the Bears and drove to the basket several times but were unable to capitalize as Kate Brock had a big time block to return possession to NYIT. Imani Stepney attempted a three at nine seconds but a team rebound and two free throws sealed the deal for the sixth-seeded Bears.
The team will face top-seeded Bentley on Monday, March 14 in the programs' first ever East Region Championship appearance.