Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Campbell Hits FTs, Advances to D-III Championship Game

It's pretty simple. Campbell and Bishop Brady both attempted 15 free throws. Campbell made 11, while Brady made just 5. Campbell made 6 more FTs, and guess how many points they won by? 6, as the Cougars advanced to the girls Division III title game with a 44-38 win over Brady.

"Free throw shooting has haunted us all year, but tonight it really came back to bite us" lamented Bishop Brady head coach Aaron Brochu. "They shot 73% from the line, we shot 33%."

Still, Brochu deserves a lot of credit. He took over a program that been struggling mightily and guided them to the Final Four in each of his first 2 years at the helm. And next year the Giants will once again be favorites to get back to SNHU, especially when you consider that of their 4 best players 2 of them are juniors (Sarah Thomas and Melissa Mallahan) and 1 of them is only a freshman (Riley Bennett).

Speaking of 2nd-year head coaches, Campbell's Robert Allan has the Cougars in the title game for the 6th time in he last 7 years. Junior guard Hannah Neild had a team-high 13 points to go with 5 assists and 4 rebounds, while senior forward Alex Trevains chipped in with 10 points.

"Somehow, someway these girls have been digging deeper than they thought they could" said Coach Allan. "It's a great group of girls."

The peak of this game was in the 3rd quarter, when there was a whopping 6 lead changes. Both teams just kept going at each other and hitting shots, with neither side backing down. Campbell led at halftime 23-22, as Neild drilled a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to give the Cougars the lead at the half. Then in the 3rd quarter Brady quickly took the lead back, as Thomas made a nice dish to Mallahan for a layup and it was 24-23 Giants.

Campbell junior wing Kylee Julia answered with a jumper from the elbow to put Campbell back on top 25-24. Then it was Mallahan for 2 more, as she rebounded her own miss and put it in as Brady re-takes the lead 26-25. Brady went up 28-25 on a fast break layup by senior guard Riselly Deoleo (team-high 13 points). But then Neild hit back-to-back jumpers to put Campbell back up 29-28. Deoleo raced down court, scoring inside for 2 more and we had yet another lead change as now it was Brady going back ahead 30-29 with 1:45 left in the 3rd.

Neild again put Campbell back in the lead with a pair of free throws to make it 31-30 Cougars. Brianna Hardy hit a 15-footer as Campbell increased their lead to 33-30, but then Brady stole the ball in the back court and Thomas made a layup right before the buzzer to cut the Campbell lead to 33-32 lead after 3 quarters. This was a very even match up.

Over 2 minutes went by to start the 4th quarter with neither team scoring. Then Thomas hit a clutch shot, drilling a 3-pointer to put the Giants back in from 35-33 with 5:53 left in the game.

That's when Campbell took over, outscoring Brady 11-3 the rest of the way. Julia made a great block to prevent a layup. Then freshman guard made a nice drop step move inside, hitting the turnaround jumper. Then forward Kali Trunca hit a shot inside as Campbell went back on top 37-36 with 3:30 left in regulation.

Then came the play of the game. Campbell was clinging to a 1 point lead late, up 38-37. Out of a timeout they set up a sideline out of bounds play. Neild threw the inbounds pass towards the hoop, over to Trevains. Trevains caught the ball right next to the basket for a layup and a 40-37 Cougars lead with 2:25 remaining.

"That was a set play, we just put it in about 2 days ago" said Coach Allan. One of our assistants came up with it. Hannah made a great pass, she threw it right on a dime."

Campbell had the lead in the final 2 minutes, yet they twice fouled Brady to put them on the line. Fortunately the Giants made just 1 of a possible 4 FTs. Campbell then had the ball up 40-38 with just under a minute left but turned it over. So then Brady gets the ball back, trailing 40-38 with 46 seconds to go. Deoleo tries to drive but egts double-teamed and loses the ball out of bounds.

Julia then gets fouled, goes to the line and makes both FTs to make it a 2 possession game for the first time since the 1st half. Again, Campbell is called for a foul late but again Brady misses both foul shots. Trevains adds 2 more FTs for the 44-38 final score.

It was a back-and-forth game in the 1st half as well. Campbell was up 13-10 in the 2nd quarter, but then Riselly pushed it hard on the break for a 2-on-1 opportunity. She hit the layup, but then Trunca converted a put-back. Riselly then buried a 3-pointer to tie it up 15-15 with 4:35 left in the 1st half.

Brady then took the lead as they got a steal and then Thomas made the layup and it was 17-15 Giants. On the next trip down the floor Thomas connected on a 3-pointer and it was 20-15 Brady.

Campbell closed the half on an 8-2 run, though. Fabiano scored in the paint. Fabiano had 6 points in the 1st half. She is a quick, skilled, scrappy guard and is only a freshman.

"When she first joined the team we brought her along slow, we micromanaged her" said Allan. "But tonight she was able to attack the basket and made some nice moves."

Right after Fabiano's bucket Neild hit a 3 and it was 23-22 Campbell at the half. You know how the rest went!

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