NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Sparked by a season-high 21 points by junior Shyann Josler (Thetford Center, Vt.), the Norwich University women's basketball team picked up a 67-53 win against Suffolk University in the semifinal round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament on Tuesday.
The Cadets improve to 16-10 on the season, moving on to play at Emmanuel (Mass.) on Thursday, Feb. 23. The Saints cruised past Simmons on Tuesday and will host Norwich in the GNAC Semifinals – the start time for Thursday's game has yet to be determined. The Cadets snap an eight-game losing streak to Suffolk with Tuesday's result.
Josler also led Norwich with six assists. Senior Heather LeBlanc (Sanford, Maine) tallied 17 points, narrowly missing a double-double with her team-leading nine rebounds. Classmate Leanne Winans (Hudson, N.H.) threw up a team-leading three blocks, scoring 11 points en route to the victory.
Norwich opened up a four-point lead through the game's first 55 seconds, but yielded seven-straight points to trail by a 7-4 margin following a three-point basket from Georgia Bourikas. The Cadets closed the gap with back-to-back triples from Josler, capturing a 14-11 lead with 49 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Suffolk tied the game at 21 with 6:45 to go in the first half, but Winans and LeBlanc would make back-to-back layups in the paint to create offensive momentum. The Norwich lead would swell to nine points down the stretch as Josler and sophomore Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) hit back-to-back three's to create a 34-25 lead at the half.
The Cadets opened the second half on a 5-0 run, creating a double-digit lead, 39-25, shortly into the third period. A Mercer layup with 6:31 left in the third quarter elevated Norwich to a 43-27 lead, the highest lead to that point of the game. A jumper by Katelyn Rourke late in the third period shrunk the Norwich lead to eight points, 50-42.
Four-straight baskets for the Cadets to open the fourth quarter propelled the hosts to an 18-point lead, a game-high advantage. An eight-point run by Suffolk made things interesting down the stretch, down by only 10 points with 4:27 left in regulation time, but two quick layups by the Cadets put the game out of reach.
Norwich finished the game with 36 points in the paint while limiting Suffolk to only 18 points under the basket. The stout Cadets defense also forced the Rams into 19 turnovers while throwing up a season-high eight blocks – the eight rejections were the most in a single game for Norwich since Dec. 13, 2011, a 66-60 win against Castleton.
Alexis Hackett put home 12 points and six rebounds for Suffolk. Alexandra Clarkecashed in with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Bourikas rounded out the double-digit point scorers with 11. The Cadets were outrebounded for the only the third time all season, 38-to-31.