St. Francis playoff hopes rest with women’s squad
by Bryan Fonseca
Feb 21, 2017 | 5335 views | 0 0 comments | 433 433 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OLIVIA LEVEY (Photos: Jeffrey Armstrong)
OLIVIA LEVEY (Photos: Jeffrey Armstrong)
slideshow
ALEX DELANEY
ALEX DELANEY
slideshow
RACHEL IOZZIA
RACHEL IOZZIA
slideshow
MARIA PALARINO
MARIA PALARINO
slideshow
It’s been a year to forget for the St. Francis Terriers young basketball teams, but playoff basketball may still be on the horizon.

The women’s squad, who picked up a much-needed win on Senior Day this past Saturday against Wagner, sit at (7-20, 5-11 NEC) with two games remaining before the Northeast Conference playoffs begin.

On the men’s side, they’re mathematically eliminated. A squad with just one senior will miss the NEC postseason for the first time since the 2010 season, the final campaign before Glenn Braica became the team’s head coach.

For the women, they’re hanging on to the eighth and final playoff spot, with the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (5-22, 4-12 NEC) and Wagner Seahawks (4-23, 3-13 NEC), who play each other this coming Saturday, breathing down the Terriers’ necks.

The Terrier women just missed the playoffs last season, and are looking to reclaim a spot in the NEC dance, with a likely match-up at first place Robert Morris (17-9, 12-3 NEC), whom the Terriers beat at RMU three times in a row.

The last of the trifecta includes their January 7th encounter this year, where all-around sophomore Maria Palarino torched the western Pennsylvania squad for 18 points and 11 rebounds, minutes away from her hometown of Irwin, Pennsylvania.

The 63-50 weekend victory over the Seahawks, where the Terriers assisted on 23-of-24 field goals, was not only helpful, it was necessary.

The unit capped off the Senior Day ceremony honoring Olivia Levey and Rachel Iozzia, who will graduate in May, with a victory putting them in position to leapfrog a struggling Fairleigh Dickinson for seventh in the league before the playoffs, which begin on March 5.

Except for, well, LIU Brooklyn came in and fouled that up on Monday.

In a match-up where the Terriers outrebounded the Blackbirds, 34-26, and led for three-quarters of the game, the Blackbirds were able to pull off the win behind the effort of senior guard Shanovia Dove, who scored 31 points (22 in the second half) in 24 minutes.

“We didn’t learn our lesson from the first LIU game, and we lost both games on bad defensive plays,” Terrier head coach John Thurston said of the finish, which included the Blackbirds earning three foul shots after a smothered attempt from deep, all of which were converted.

“One of the first things they teach you when you start playing basketball is you don’t leave your feet on defense,” he added. “It’s unfortunate. I told them, ‘you are playing against one the great players in the league.’ The only way to stop [Dove] was to keep the ball out of her hands.

The senior combination of Levey and Iozzia led the Terriers in the nearly triumphant second win over LIU Brooklyn. Levey tied a season-high of 20 points while pulling down nine rebounds, nearly accounting for her second double-double of the season.

Iozzia drained 4-of-6 from deep and finished with a career-best 15 points, while simultaneously recording a team-best five assists. This marks the final home game for each Terrier as the playoff push continues.

Junior forward Alex Delaney, who entered the game having scored 14 points per game over her last six, finished with eight points and 10 rebounds and now has 97 career three-pointers made, three shy of becoming the 12th female Terrier in history to 100.

“Now, instead of being in control of your destiny, the destiny is up in the air,” coach Thurston said of the Terriers’ playoff chances. “Let’s see what happens through the last weekend. So much of what happens now is out of our control. Hats off to Liv and Rachel, they played their best games of their careers really.”

Now, to put a stamp on the regular season, the Terriers will travel to face Central Connecticut State on Saturday at 1 p.m., and return to the road to combat Mount Saint Mary’s on Monday at 7 p.m.

While hosting both clubs earlier this season, the Terriers lost to both, 61-53 and 62-44 respectively, and will look to upend at least one of the two playoff-bound units this weekend.
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet