EASTON, Mass. – The Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) women's basketball team (26-6) saw its 2017-18 season come to an end on Friday afternoon from Stonehill College's Merket Gymnasium with a close, hard-fought loss in the first round of the NCAA East Regionals to the Bentley Falcons (28-3) by a final of 71-66.
The loss ends the Rams' season while Bentley moves on to face USciences in the next round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Rams were not intimidated out of the gate and knew they could play with Bentley. Jefferson grabbed the first lead of the game with a three by redshirt sophomore Alynna Williams and kept it close for the quarter, trailing only by three heading into the second, 20-17.
The Falcons then held the Rams to just 12 points in the second quarter as Bentley's lead grew to as many as 11 with under a minute and a half to play in the half, 37-26. Redshirt junior Erin Maher made a three with 38 seconds to pull the Rams within eight before the Falcons came down the court for a layup to own a 10-point lead at halftime, 39-29.
Jefferson came out determined in the third quarter, starting the period on a 10-3 run to get within three, 42-39 with 6:28 to play. The Falcons tried to distance themselves, going up by seven in the quarter, before the Rams finally closed the gap to tie the game as the two squads went into the fourth all even, 51-51.
Jefferson grabbed its first lead since the first quarter with 9:32 to play in the game when Williams converted after a steal and assist from junior transfer Beverly Kum. Senior Rachel Day then extended the edge up to four after a Bentley turnover, 55-51. The run continued as the Rams went up by six, their most of the game, after a shot from Kum, 57-51 with 7:43 on the clock.
Bentley tied it back up 60-60 with 3:16 to play before redshirt junior Jessica Kaminksi sank two free throws to put the Rams back on top. But Bentley responded with a free throw and a basket on the other end to go up 63-62 with just over two minutes to play, a lead they held for the remainder of the contest.
Trailing by three in the final moments, redshirt freshman Caitlyn Cunningham took what would have been a game-tying three in the final seconds but it did not go down. Forced to foul, Bentley hit both from the line to win, 71-66.
Maher led Jefferson with 16 points and four three-pointers. She also grabbed five boards and notched three assists.
Kum scored 15 points on the day with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Kaminski accounted for 14 points with eight rebounds, four assists and a steal while Day finished the afternoon with eight points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal.
In total, Jefferson shot 39.1% from the floor (25-of-64), 43.8% from the three-point range (7-of-16) and 47.4% from the line (9-of-19). Free throw shooting plagued the Rams on the afternoon after shooting 72.2% coming into the contest.
Head Coach Tom Shirley and the Jefferson Rams end the season with a 26-6 mark. The squad earned the No. 7 seed in the NCAA East Regionals after finishing runner-up in the CACC Championships to USciences. Shirley also finished the campaign with 599 wins at the school and 748 in his career.
VIDEO RECAP VS. BENTLEY