New York women's basketball team defeated by Bears of St. Joseph's Brooklyn in HVIAC semifinal round, 73-59

The Berkeley College of New York women’s basketball came into the 2013-2014 Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as the No. 1 seed in hopes of capturing their first tournament crown in the program’s young four year history. Unfortunately for the Knights, the defending champion Bears of St. Joseph’s College of Brooklyn had other plans. The Bears took it to the Knights the entire evening at the Wellness Center on the campus of the College of New Rochelle, as St. Joseph’s College did not trail once in the contest en route to defeating Berkeley by a score of 73-59. With the loss, Berkeley College dipped to 13-6 on the season, while the Bears upped their mark to 15-10 and stamped their ticket to the championship game of the tourney, which will take place tomorrow against the College of New Rochelle at 4:00pm.

In the first half of play, St. Joseph’s College held of 8-4, 14-19, and 19-12, but every time it seemed as though the Bears were going put some distance between themselves and their opponent, the Knights kept the game close. With Berkeley trailing in the contest 23-18 with just under 3:30 remaining, junior forward Milan Germany drained a three-point basket to pull her team to within two points. Following a made jump shot by St. Joseph’s senior guard Kelly McNamee, Germany would nail another triple, cutting the Bears’ lead to a point at 25-24. Later on – with 19 seconds remaining in the first half – a pair of McNamee free throws would be the final points scored of the stanza, and Berkeley jogged into the  locker room trailing by three points – 27-24.

The second half saw the Bears turn up the voltage, as St. Joseph’s outscored Berkeley College 22-6 in the opening 7:17 of the period to take its biggest lead of the game – 19 points – at 49-30. The Knights later found themselves trailing 60-42 with 7:54 remaining in the game, and that’s when they made one final push to bring themselves back into the game.

Over the ensuing 4:05 of play, the Knights would put together 12-2 run (a spurt highlighted by five points from Germany) to pull to within eight points at 62-54 with 3:49 remaining in the game. A huge converted layup by Bears junior forward Taylor Raccuglia on St. Joseph’s’ next possession would stop the bleeding, as the Bears once again led by double digits at 64-54. A free throw by Berkeley College junior guard Janay Thomas, and a layup by senior guard Aiyesha Brown brought the Knights to within seven points (64-57) with 2:38 to go.

Down the stretch, though, Berkeley College was unable to convert on another field goal, and the Bears outscored the Knights 9-2 to account for their 73-59 victory.

Despite the loss Berkeley, it was Germany putting together a strong performance, as she posted team-highs in points with 21 and rebounds with eight while also tallying seven steals. Brown converted on six of her nine attempts from the charity stripe and finished with 18 points and seven steals, and junior guard Janay Thomas added eight points and six rebounds.

In a winning effort for St. Joseph’s College of Brooklyn, the Bears were paced by McNamee, as she netted a game-high 23 points to go along with for rebounds and three assists. Three other players scored in double figures for St. Joe’s, including Raccuglia who finalized her evening with 15 points, and senior Megan Moran and junior Samantha Retas who finished with 12 points apiece.

The Bears of St. Joseph’s College will now look to capture their second straight conference title, as they’ll face the College of New Rochelle in the championship game of the tournament. The game will certainly have no shortage of intrigue, as the teams played a classic game against one another just three short nights ago, with the Blue Angels coming out on top  by a score of 55-52. The Bears will have a chance to avenge that loss in a big way, but they’ll have to do it against a red-hot New Rochelle team that will be playing the title game on its home floor in front of its passionate fans.

As for the Berkeley College women’s basketball team, the Knights – who were 6-0 in HVIAC competition in the regular season and recorded its third straight campaign of double digit victories – will now hold out hope of earning a bid to the USCAA Women’s Basketball National Tournament. 10 teams get invited to participate, and the Knights are hopeful that their success up to this point in the season will earn them a spot in the tourney.