Lancaster Bible Falls in NEAC Final

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The Lancaster Bible women's basketball team came up just a few minutes short on Sunday afternoon in its quest to win its second North Eastern Athletic Conference Championship as the Chargers lost to SUNY Polytechnic, 69-65 at Horst Athletic Center. The loss snaps Lancaster Bible's program-record 16-game winning streak and drops the Chargers to 23-4 this season. SUNY Poly improves to 23-5 and the Wildcats will advance to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

How it Happened: Lancaster Bible opened the game just as it had hoped as the Chargers raced out to a 10-2 lead over the first 4:40 of the contest. Seniors Shanice Smith and Aubrey Folger combined for all 10 points during the run as the Chargers repeated the feat of a fast start as they accomplished on Saturday in the NEAC Semifinals against Morrisville State. Lancaster Bible took its biggest lead of the quarter on a jumper from Folger at the buzzer as the Chargers led 20-7 after one quarter of play.

A slower-paced second quarter ensued, yet Lancaster Bible continued to increase its lead as back-to-back free throws from Smith gave the Chargers a 31-14 lead with 2:05 remaining in the half. SUNY Poly was able to trim its deficit to 14 at 32-18 just before the end of the second quarter and the Chargers could not get off a final shot and took a 14-point advantage into halftime.

SUNY Poly opened the second half on a 7-0 run as junior Stevie Ray scored five of the seven points and the Wildcats began to turn up the defensive pressure and get easy buckets on the other end of the floor. Lancaster Bible responded with four straight points and eventually took a 44-31 lead with 5:13 remaining in the third quarter thanks to a 3-pointer from senior Katy Stover.

Lancaster Bible's last double-digit lead came with 2:45 to play as a jumper from Folger gave the Chargers a 46-35 lead. Ray scored six of the Wildcats' final eight points of the quarter and SUNY Poly trailed just 48-43 after 30 minutes of play. 

Lancaster Bible maintained a small lead throughout the first half of the fourth quarter as Krissy Pennell's layup with 4:58 to play gave the Chargers a 56-51 lead. Ray scored seven points over the next 2:25 and her layup with 2:23 to play tied the contest at 60-60. Ray gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game with 1:23 to play as she knocked down two free throws to give SUNY Poly a 64-62 advantage. 

After two fruitless offensive possessions, the Chargers had to foul with 21 seconds remaining and Ray converted two more free throws. Down 67-62, Lancaster Bible got a 3-pointer from Pennell with three seconds to play to cut the Chargers' deficit to 67-65, but Ray made both free throws at the other end and iced the game for the Wildcats.

By the Numbers: Lancaster Bible shot 20-of-58 (34.5 percent) from the floor, while SUNY Poly was 25-of-62 (40.3 percent) from the field...Both teams shot free throws well as Lancaster Bible was 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) and SUNY Poly also shot 83.3 percent (15-of-18)...Smith led the Chargers with 19 points and 16 rebounds, while Folger finished with 21 points and nine rebounds...Stover added eight points, while Pennell had seven points, four assists and four steals...Ray led all scorers with 30 points on 8-of-18 shooting and a perfect 11-of-11 mark from the free throw line...Ray had zero points and three fouls in the first half and erupted for 30 points in the second half...SUNY Poly scored 51 points in the second half...Lancaster Bible outrebounded SUNY Poly, 38-31...The Chargers committed 23 turnovers...SUNY Poly had 40 points in the paint, while the Chargers had just 22.

The Coach Says: "We have such a great group of seniors and wish they could have experienced the NCAA Tournament together," Lancaster Bible Head Coach Katelyn Vanderhoff said. "I feel for them and the rest of our team, we just didn't have enough at the end and Ray took the game over."

On the second half..."Poly put some more pressure on us and it slowly just slipped away from us," Vanderhoff said. "Ray got hot and when she does, she's one of the best players in the conference. We still had a chance at the end though and I'm happy with our fight, just didn't execute enough."

Extra! Extra!: Lancaster Bible falls to 2-5 all-time against SUNY Polytechnic...The Wildcats eliminated the Chargers from the 2012 NEAC Playoffs as well...The home loss was the first for the Chargers since the 2014 NEAC Final when Lancaster Bible lost to Wells...Lancaster Bible had won 25 straight home games prior to Sunday...Folger, the team's lone four-year senior, finishes her career with a record of 51-5 at Horst Athletic Center...Folger never lost a regular season home NEAC contest in her four seasons as the Chargers went 37-0...In all NEAC games at Horst Athletic Center over the past four seasons, the Chargers are 42-2...Sunday's loss is the first for the Chargers since a 77-70 overtime loss to Morrisville State on Jan. 16. 

Up Next: Lancaster Bible will compete in the NCCAA Division I Mid-West Regional Playoffs...Date, time and opponent will be determined this week.