Susie Ellis scored 25 points, one of four Bearcats in double-figures, to lead the Bearcats to a 74-68 win over Washington & Jefferson College in the Presidents' Athletic Conference semifinal round. The Bearcats now advance to the Championship game on Saturday.
Kayla Slovenec got the Bearcats on the board first, scoring just over one minute into play on a jumper. After the Presidents scored the next five points, it was again the freshman Slovenec scoring for Saint Vincent, driving through the lane for a bucket that made it 5-4.
While W&J was converting field goals, the Bearcats were drawing fouls and scoring at the free throw line, with the team's next six points coming from the charity stripe. After Hannah Carroll's freebies at the 2:19 mark, the Bearcats were down 12-10. After a Taylor Cortazzo three pointer for W&J made it a five-point game with just over one minute left in the first. However, the Bearcats fought back in the closing seconds. First, it was Ellis hitting a long three, then Jasmine Weems took advantage of a W&J turnover, going the distance for a layup that tied the game at 15-15 after the first ten minutes.
The Bearcat got into quick foul trouble to open the second quarter, tallying their fifth foul in just over two minutes of action. During that span, W&J hit six free throws of their own, taking a 21-18 lead, with SVC's points coming on a three from Ellis. Paige Montrose later scored four straight points for the Bearcats, while Ellis canned a pair of threes to give SVC a 7-point edge, 32-25 with 3:45 on the clock.
After a time out, W&J regrouped and scored four consecutive points before Montrose scored twice for the Bearcats, making it a 36-29 game. The Bearcats eventually went into the locker room up by nine, 41-32. Ellis tallied 18 points in the first half, while Montrose added 10.
The Presidents had the hot hand to start the second half, erasing the SVC lead with a 9-point run in the opening 2:25. The Bearcats regained the lead on a Katie Ryan free throw at the 6:13 mark, and then got back-to-back jumpers from Weems and Montrose to extend the lead back to five, 46-41. The Bearcats then ran their run to nine after a pair of free throws by Montrose and a layup by Madison Kollar.
Kollar eventually scored six straight Saint Vincent points, hitting a baseline jumper and a wide open 15-footer to help increase the advantage to ten, 56-46, before W&J scored at the end of the third to make it a 56-48 game after thirty minutes of play.
After a three from the Presidents opened the fourth quarter, it was Kollar that again took control, hitting a pair of shots from the top of the key just inside the three-point arc, giving SVC a 60-51 lead. Ellis added a long three-point bomber at the 6:40 mark to give Saint Vincent its biggest lead of the evening, at 63-51.
Later, Alyssa Riley hit a three to reduce the lead to seven, 69-62 with just under 5 minutes remaining. W&J then added four more points to trim the Bearcat lead to three, 69-66 at the 2:00 mark.
After a Presidents time out, Rachel Bellhy scored again for the Presidents to make it a one-point game with 1:21 to go. The Bearcats were unable to score on their next possession, with the rebound going to the Presidents. Bellhy drove the lane with 41 seconds to go, but Hannah Carroll stepped in front of her and drew a crucial charge call. With 33 ticks on the clock Weems was fouled and went to the line, hitting the second shot to run the lead back to two, 70-68. After a timeout, W&J had the ball but was unable to get off a shot, as Ellis broke up a pass and drew a foul with 3.5 seconds left. The referees then went to a replay monitor and eventually determined that the foul was intentional. Ellis hit both free throws and the Bearcats received the ball. Weems hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win.
Ellis tallied 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 5-10 from outside the arc. Montrose had a solid performance with 14 points and four rebounds off the bench. Weems had 12 points and a team-high 8 rebounds to go along with six assists. Kollar added 10 points, all in the second half off the bench.
The Bearcats will now await the outcome of #1-seed Thomas More against #4-seed Waynesburg University to see who they play at 4PM on Saturday in the final.