SCRANTON, Pa. - Junior guard Makenzie Mason (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) registered a double-double to lead a balanced scoring attack (16 points, 11 rebounds), as The University of Scranton women's basketball team used a 26-10 rally in the third quarter to pull past New England College, 69-49, in the First Round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Championships on Friday night at the John Long Center.
With the win, Scranton moved to 26-2 overall for the year and advance to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season. The Lady Royals are now winners of their last seven games overall, as well.
The Lady Royals, who have now won 63 games all-time in the NCAA Tournament, will now meet Johns Hopkins on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Second Round action in the Long Center. The Blue Jays were 58-42 victors in their First Round game earlier on Friday against Eastern Connecticut State.
To start the game Friday night, New England College (who ends the year 19-10 with their loss to the Lady Royals) were up to the task in playing in their first NCAA Tournament ever, as they opened a four-point lead on the Lady Royals after the first quarter, 17-13.
The game remained tight throughout the second period, as Scranton grabbed the lead back, but only led by at most four points on several occasions. The visiting Pilgrims were able to get the final bucket of the first half, as the basket sliced the Scranton lead down to 29-27 entering intermission.
But, after the break, Scranton made the proper adjustments and put away New England College for the night with a huge rally.
First, the Lady Royals went on an 11-2 spurt that gave them (at the time) their first double-digit lead of the night at 40-29 after freshman Hannah Kowalski (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) nailed two free throws.
After NEC quickly cut the Scranton lead back down to single digits (40-31), sophomore Taylor Rodriguez (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) nailed a big three that put the Lady Royals up for good at 43-31. From there, the hits kept coming from the Lady Royals, as they ended the period on a 12-6 rally to open their biggest lead of the night at 55-37 entering the fourth quarter.
Entering the fourth up by 18 points, the closest New England College came to the Scranton lead the rest of the night was 14 (55-41), as the Lady Royals coasted down the stretch for their 25th win of the year by double-digits, taking the game by 20 points to advance.
Overall, Mason, who was named the Landmark Conference's Player of the Year on Wednesday, notched her ninth double-double of the season with her 16 point, 11 rebound performance. It also marked the 23rd time on the season that she has scored in double-figures for the Lady Royals, as well.
Elsewhere, it was a balanced scoring evening for Scranton in the win, as Mason was one of four to score in double-figures. Senior guard Bridgette Mann (Canadensis, Pa./Wallenpaupack), playing in the 11th NCAA Tournament game of her career, finished with 13 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez and Kowalski came off the bench and ignited the Lady Royals in the decisive third quarter. Kowalski ended the night with 12 points in her first NCAA Tournament game, while Rodriguez had 11 points, nailing a trio of three-pointers in the victory.
On defense, Scranton once again held an opponent to under 50 points, marking the 18th time on the season that has occurred. They also held New England College to just 1-of-9 shooting from three-point range, while forcing 18 turnovers, as well.
Scranton now looks ahead to a Second Round tilt with Johns Hopkins (23-4 overall) tomorrow at 6 p.m., with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line in the contest. The matchup between the Lady Royals and Blue Jays will be the fourth all-time between the schools, and the first since 2006, as Scranton holds a 3-1 edge in the series.
Against Eastern Connecticut State, Hopkins was led by Lexie Scholtz, who finished with 16 points in a convincing win for the Blue Jays, who are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2012.
For live video and stat links for tomorrow's match-up with Johns Hopkins, head to Scranton's schedule page by clicking here.