READING, Pa. – Kelecia Harris had 14 points and 17 rebounds and Kadijah Bishop added 11 points and 14 rebounds and Albright used an 18-0 run late in the game to defeat Messiah 59-42 in the semifinals of the Commonwealth Conference Tournament on Wednesday in the Bollman Center.
Harris had to come out of the game with a leg cramp with 9:17 to play and the Lions clinging to a 39-37 lead, but Albright responded with a game-deciding run to put away the Falcons.
Jane Joyce, who finished with 12 points, began the run with a jumper to push the lead to 41-37. Jessica Venturelli followed with a pair of free throws and Shannon Thomas made it 45-37 Albright with a jumper with 6:59 left in the game.
Harris returned at the 6:55 mark and added a free throw to up the lead to 46-37. Joyce hit back-to-back jumpers to increase the lead to 50-37 with 4:36 left in the game and Venturelli drilled a three-pointer to extend the lead to 53-37 with 3:52 remaining in the game.
Joyce added two free throws and a layup to cap the run giving Albright a 57-37 lead with 2:50 left in the contest.
With the win, Albright advances to the championship game of the Commonwealth Conference Tournament where it will meet Stevenson on Saturday (Feb. 28). The Mustangs will host the championship game after defeating Lebanon Valley 63-47 on Wednesday.
It marks the Lions first-ever championship game appearance and is Albright's first conference tournament win since defeating Juniata 47-44 on Feb. 25, 1978.
Albright continued its record-setting season as it improved to 20-6 on the year which ties the school record for wins in a season.
Individually, Harris broke the Albright single-season rebounding record as her 17 boards increased her total to 295 for the season breaking the previous record of 290 set by Alison Koch during the 1988-89 season.
Albright dominated the boards against Messiah as it outrebounded the Falcons 52-33. In fact the duo of Harris and Bishop was just two rebounds shy of the entire Messiah team.
Albright shot 47.2 percent from the floor for the game and limited the Falcons to just 26.5 percent shooting, which included a 21.6 percent effort in the second half.
Thomas added 11 points for Albright, while Emily O'Donnell finished with six points and Venturelli had five.
Messiah, which finished the season with a 13-13 record, was led by Dominique Seamon and Kaitlyn Hoff who each had eight points. Gillian Glackin finished with six points and 11 rebounds.
The first half was tightly contested until the Lions used a 10-2 run late in the half to build a halftime lead.
With Messiah leading 17-16 following a three-pointer by Sienna Wisse, Bishop put the Lions back in front to stay with a layup with 8:02 to play in the first half.
Thomas increased the lead to 20-17 with a jumper with 6:11 to play, but Hoff answered with a basket for the Falcons which cut the lead to 20-19 at the 5:56 mark of the first period.
Thomas converted a layup and Harris and Joyce followed with jumpers to increase the Albright lead to 26-19 with 3:27 left in the first period.
Glackin trimmed the lead to 26-21 with a short jumper, but Bishop increased the lead to 29-21 by making one of two free throws and scoring inside on a turnaround jumper.
Glackin answered with a layup with four seconds remaining in the first half giving Albright a 29-23 lead at the intermission.