Jubilation after Midnight: Berkeley College (NY) women's basketball team punches ticket to USCAA National Tournament semifinals with 77-75 overtime victory over Penn State Beaver in quarterfinals

For the second consecutive season, the Berkeley College (NY) women’s basketball team will be playing in the semifinals of the USCAA National Basketball Tournament, as earlier this morning, the No. 4 seeded Knights outlasted the No. 5 seeded Nittany Lions of Penn State Beaver in the quarterfinal round by a score of 77-75 in overtime at the Maltho Arena in Uniontown, PA. With the victory, the Knights now advance to play No. 1 seeded Central Penn tomorrow evening in the Main Arena at 9:00pm, with a chance to qualify for the National Championship Game. With the loss, Penn State Beaver will battle Warren Wilson in the consolation bracket tomorrow at 4:00pm.

In a game that lasted two hours and six minutes and concluded at 12:56am, the Knights took their fans on a roller coaster ride. At the half, Penn State Beaver led Berkeley by a score of 39-30, and the Nittany Lions ballooned their lead up to 14 – 52-38 – with 14:14 remaining in the contest. At that point, the Knights began storming back.

Senior guard Aiyesha Brown started Berkeley’s push by nailing a three-point basket. Following a turnover by Penn State Beaver’s Cassandra Flowers, junior guard Janay Thomas drilled a triple to bring the Knights to within eight points at 52-44. The Nittany Lions would then turn the ball over again, which led to Brown driving in for a layup to cut her team’s deficit to six points. With 12:39 remaining in the game, the Knights found themselves trailing 52-46.

Penn State Beaver then responded with a modest 5-3 run to push back ahead 57-49, but a 9-0 Berkeley College run – capped by a three-point basket by junior forward Milan Germany – put the Knights up one – 58-57. It was the first time the Knights held a lead since being up 23-22 with 7:12 remaining in the first half.

After a basket by Nittany Lions guard Natalie Gamble gave Penn State Beaver the lead again at 59-58, Berkeley scored the next eight points (a spurt that included a basket and two converted freebees by Thomas, a pair of made free throws by Brown, and a layup by Germany) to go back up 66-59 with 4:15 remaining in the game.

Penn State Beaver – despite relinquishing a 14 point lead earlier in the stanza and finding themselves in between a rock and a hard place – didn’t quit. A layup by flowers, a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Morgan Kurtz, and another two freebee conversions by Flowers pulled the Nittany Lions back to within a point – 66-65 – with just under two minutes remaining.
Later, with the Knights holding a 69-67 lead, Penn State Beaver sophomore guard Khalia Adams would convert on a layup to tie the game. With only five seconds remaining in regulation, Thomas took the inbounds pass and began to dribble before giving the ball up to Germany. Germany only got to half court before heaving a desperation shot that was off, sending the game into an extra session.

The Nittany Lions scored the first four points of the extra session – all at the line – as Penn State Beaver held a 73-69 lead. A layup by Thomas brought Berkeley to within two points with 1:28 to go, but the Nittany Lions responded with a converted layup by Adams. With 1:13 remaining, the Knights found themselves down four points.

On Berkeley’s next possession, Germany nailed a three pointer from the corner to pull her team to within a point at 75-74. On Penn State Beaver’s next possession, Thomas came up with a huge steal, snatching the ball away from Nittany Lions freshman guard Mason Depetro and driving all the way to the hoop before laying it in, giving Berkeley a 76-75 edge.

The Nittany Lions still had a chance to take the lead, but on their next possession, freshman guard Sydnee Abernathy would miss a layup. The ball was rebounded by Flowers, who would then turn the ball over. On Berkeley’s next possession, Germany would turn the ball over, as Abernathy would come up with the steal and feed Kurtz, who would have her layup blocked by the Knights’ Tiera Williams. Williams then grabbed the ball and was fouled.

Williams then went to the charity stripe, where she knocked down the first of her two attempts. The second attempt was off, and the rebound was grabbed by Flowers. Penn State Beaver would turn the ball over in the front court, though, and Aiyesha Brown would run out the clock to give Berkeley an exhilarating two point overtime victory in the quarterfinal round.

Thomas and Brown were tied for the game-high in points scored, as both standouts netted 25 points. Thomas also tallied four steals, grabbed three rebounds, and dished three assists, and Brown had a game-high six steals while pulling down three rebounds. Germany posted a double-double with 16 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, and forward Patricia Patterson dropped-in nine points while snatching 10 boards.

In a losing effort for Penn State Beaver, the Nittany Lions got 22 points from Kurtz, who connected on 11 of her 15 attempts from the charity stripe. She also grabbed 10 rebounds as well. Flowers put together one of the more stellar performances in recent quarterfinal round history, as she posted a double-double with 20 points, and game-highs in rebounds with 23 and blocks with four. Adams struggled with her shot, nailing just four of 16 attempts from the floor, but she did finish with 11 points.

The Knights won the game despite missing 17 free throws (15-32, 46.9 percent), and getting out-rebounded by an astounding margin of 68-35. Berkeley College’s defense was fantastic, however, as the Knights forced 30 Penn State Beaver turnovers, and swatted nine shots compared to six for the Nittany Lions. Finally, Berkeley held an 18-9 edge in the steals department.

Keep it posted to Berkeley College’s athletics website - http://berkeleycollege.edu/athletics/ - for all of the latest 2014 USCAA National Basketball Tournament information.