Matsuoka, Brewers Stun Saints in Liberty League Championship
Feb. 25: Vassar made 11 free throws down the stretch and had five players reach double-figures as the No. 3 Brewers upset the top seeded Saints, 79-75, in the Liberty League Championship game in the Burkman Gymnasium.
Led by tournament MVP Cydni Matsuoka, Vassar (18-9, 10-6) repeated as conference champion and earned an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III Championships. Matsuoka finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Kristyn Tempora and Hannah Senftleber had 13 apiece and combined for 12 rebounds. Brittany Parks and Colleen O'Connell chipped in 11 points apiece and combined for nine rebounds.
St. Lawrence suffers its first loss in 19 games as it falls to 21-5 overall on the season. Senior co-captain Casey Capello had a team-high 16 points, including 9-of-10 from the free throw line, and also added five rebounds. First-year student Kara McDuffee, who earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, was perfect from the field (3-for-3) and the free throw line (8-for-8) for 14 points, while junior Erica Spera added 12 points, six rebounds and three steals.
"It was a great basketball game tonight, and Vassar made one more play than we did," said St. Lawrence head coach Dan Roiger. "Our theme this year has been ‘there are no small plays', and we needed one more but couldn't come up with it. Regardless of outcome, I'm very proud of the way we played tonight and throughout the season."
The game was tight from start to finish as there were 18 ties and 19 lead changes. The biggest lead of the night came with 10:22 left in the second half when first-year student Adriana Spicer sank two free throws to put St. Lawrence up by six, 54-48. Vassar quickly tied the game back up at 8:54 behind a bucket and two free throws by Co-Rookie of the Year O'Connell. Vassar's last field goal came at 4:01 on a 3-pointer from Tempora to put the visitors up by two, 68-66. There were three ties and four lead changes in the last 4:00 minutes; the last was in favor of the Brewers as O'Connell sank two more free throws to make it 74-73 with 1:02 remaining. Though the Saints had three possessions in the final minute, they could only convert one. Meanwhile, the Brewers made 7-of-8 free throws in the final 1:02 to close out the game at 79-75.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair that featured seven ties and 11 lead changes. The Saints went up by four, 31-27, on a jumper by first-year student Allison Cady with 3:16 left in the half. Matsuoka, however, sparked a 12-4 run in favor of the visitors in the final 3:00 minutes, as she scored 11 of her 14 first half points to put her team up 39-35 at the intermission.
There were 67 combined free throw attempts in the game, as the Brewers were 25-of-31 (80.6%) and the Saints were 30-of-36 (83.3%). Vassar held a 41-37 edge in rebounds and shot 40.7% from the floor while St. Lawrence shot 38.6%.
Vassar earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, while St. Lawrence will find out if it will receive an at-large bid in Monday's selection show.