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Sarah Higgins ’16 led the Emmanuel College women’s basketball team with 20 points on Tuesday night as the 3rd-seeded Saints topped the 6th-seeded Albertus Magnus Falcons 73-63 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Quarterfinals in the Jean Yawkey Center Gym. The win propels the Saints into the GNAC Semifinals, where they will face the 2nd-seeded Johnson & Wales University Wildcats on Thursday night in Providence, R.I.
The game began with the Falcons jumping out to an early 7-4 on the Saints, although this changed quickly when Higgins caught on fire. She sparked the team to go on a 8-0 run in response, allowing the Saints to take a 12-7 lead. The momentum continued until the end of the first quarter, which came to a close with the Saints ahead by a score of 19-15.
The second quarter was a much different story for Emmanuel. Even though the Saints came out strong taking a nine point lead, the Falcons would not go down easy. Albertus began to break down the Saints defense, allowing them to rally behind sophomore forward Olivia Bolden, who finished the half with 8 points. At halftime, the Saints were still clinging to a 39-35 lead behind 14 points from Higgins.
The key to their win was a big third quarter, in which the Saints outscored the Falcons 26-11. The quarter began with the Saints marching down the floor to score a pair of quick baskets forcing the Falcons to take an early timeout. After the timeout the Saints used a full-court press to force Albertus Magnus to turn over the ball. The Saints took advantage of the Falcons repeated turnovers to take their first double-digit lead of the game within the quarter’s opening two minutes. The defense continued to play a crucial role in the third quarter for the Saints, not allowing the Falcons to score in the first five minutes, until Bolden finally broke a 17-0 run by making two free throws. By the end of the frame, the Saints held a 19-point lead over the Falcons, with a score of 65-46.
The Falcons made a push towards a late comeback, but Higgins would not let that happen, as she continued to be a monster in the paint. Despite going cold offensively in the final period, which saw them score just 8 points, the Saints held on to their lead with tight defense and teamwork to take home the victory.
The men’s basketball team took part in a thriller of their own on Tuesday night.
KYLE DAVIS BEATS THE BUZZER AND BEATS ANNA MARIA! Saints heading to the GNAC Semifinals on Thursday night!
— EC Saints (@ECSaints) February 24, 2016
The 5th-seeded Saints used a last second layup from Kyle Davis ’16 to eliminate the 4-seed Anna Maria AMCats in the quarterfinal of the GNAC tournament. The first half of the game was mostly dominated by the AMCats, who took a 47-40 lead into the break. In spite of the fact that they were down by seven at the half, this would only fuel the Saints to come out strong in the second half. With the game at tied 89 in the closing seconds, the AMCats would miss a potential go-ahead layup with 9 seconds left on the clock, allowing Emmanuel to grab the rebound and call a timeout. During the timeout, head coach Jamahl Jackson drew up a brilliant inbounds play that allowed the Davis to get the winning layup with .4 seconds left. The bucket gave the Saints a 91-89 win, advancing them to the GNAC Semifinals against top-seeded Johnson & Wales on Thursday.
Trevor Nataupsky ’19 is a sports writer for The Hub. He can be followed on Twitter at @TheBigTuna511.