Center Valley, PA (February 24, 2016) – Junior Morgan McCollian hit an 8-foot off balance jumper as time expired in overtime lifting the DeSales University women's basketball team past Manhattanville College, 69-68, advancing to the MAC Freedom Championship game on Wednesday evening in Billera Hall.
The Bulldogs (20-6) will host second seeded FDU-Florham, also an overtime winner over Delaware Valley University on Wednesday evening, in the title game on Saturday with tip set for 1:00 pm in Billera Hall.
McCollian finished with a career-high tying 33 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to record her 14th double-double of the season in the win. She was the lone Bulldog in double digits as freshman Katie Miller added nine points and sophomore Kaitlin Kelly and senior Jen Napolitano each had eight points in the win. Freshman Morgan Birmelin finished with nine rebounds and six assists.
The Valiants (18-8 overall) were led by senior Ashley Raaf with 18 points, including the 1,000th of her career, Kayleah McGuire with 14 points, and senior Ashley Franklin with 10 points.
The Bulldogs led the entire game until the end of regulation when senior Bri Pabon connected on her second of two three attempts with 15 seconds left tying the score at 60 and a last second jumper from Miller was off the mark as the game went into overtime.
Manhattanville broke an early tie at 62 with four straight points to lead 66-62 with 1:41 to go. McCollian scored a three-point play on the ensuing possession off an offensive rebound cutting the margin down to one point but McGuire was fouled on the other end and hit both free throws.
After back-to-back three-point misses by the Bulldogs, Miller grabbed the offensive board and was fouled. She calmly hit both free throws making it a one-point game with 43 seconds left and DSU got a huge stop on the defensive end and called timeout with nine ticks left.
McCollian missed a lay-up on the inbounds pass but the ball caromed out of bounds in the far corner, Bulldogs possession with two seconds left. Kelly inbounded the ball to senior Jen Napolitano who instead of shooting, quickly passed to McCollian in the middle of the lane as she turned and tossed up an off-balance jumper that hit off the glass and in as time expired.
DSU dominated the first-half leading by as many as 14 points and held a 34-21 lead at the halftime break holding the Valiants to 29.0 percent shooting in the opening half.
McCollian scored the first hoop of the second-half to give DeSales a 15-point lead but the Valiants slowly chipped away at the deficit pulling within three (40-37) with 3:38 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs responded scoring six straight points to take a 46-37 lead and led by eight after three quarters.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Napolitano made it a 10-point game (55-45) with 5:46 and it was still a 10-point lead with 3:39 left on a McCollian lay-up before an 8-0 run from the Valiants made it 57-55 with 1:58 remaining.
After each team exchanged empty possessions McCollian hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to give DSU a three-point lead with 1:31 to go but a Raaf lay-up pulled Manhattanville within one with 1:01 to play. After a DeSales timeout, Miller came up clutch hitting a running lay-up in the lane with 35 seconds left setting up the final two possessions that forced overtime.
Manhattanville rebounded from a tough shooting first-half to hit 50.0 percent from the field in the second-half and overtime. The Bulldogs owned the glass, out-rebounding the Valiants, 56-38, leading to 24 second-chance points in the win.