PHILADELPHIA – The Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) women's basketball team (29-3) had its historic season come to an end as the Rams fell to Stonehill (20-9), 86-77 in the NCAA East Region Quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.
Jefferson finishes the year with a school-record 29 victories, a third CACC Championship and, at one point, a No. 2 national ranking, the highest in program history. The Rams racked up 26 wins during the regular season alone, also a program-best. They started the campaign with 20 straight victories, the second-most in school history.
Jefferson was the third seed in the East Regional. It was the Rams' second straight NCAA appearance and 11th overall. The Skyhawks, seeded sixth, advance to the regional semifinals against the winner of Bentley/Saint Anselm on Saturday evening.
Stonehill got off to a quick start, posting nine of the opening 11 points. Jefferson came back with a 10-4 run to cut the deficit to one (13-12). Junior Alynna Williams hit a three at the 1:16 mark to tie the score at 17. The Skyhawks made a bucket with 18 seconds left and led 19-17 after one.
The Rams trailed 21-19 in the second before Stonehill drilled a three and added a layup to make the score 26-19. The Skyhawks increased their lead to 11 (33-22) with a three at the 5:00 mark. Jefferson followed with a 12-5 rally to close the gap to three (38-35) heading into halftime. Sophomore Caitlyn Cunningham led all scorers with 11 points at the break.
Stonehill upped the margin to seven (46-39) with eight of the first 12 points in the third quarter. The Rams recovered to get it back within three (48-45) before the Skyhawks went on an 8-3 run to go ahead 56-48 with 3:32 to go. Stonehill was ahead 61-52 going to the final period.
Jefferson began the fourth with five consecutive points and trailed 61-57. The Skyhawks responded with a pair of layups to go back ahead by eight. Stonehill sank a three-pointer with 4:43 left for a 75-63 advantage and made another long ball at 2:36 for its largest lead at 14 (82-68). The Rams made a late push with back-to-back threes by senior Erin Maher (1:39) and Cunningham (1:09) and another Cunningham triple (0:55) to trail 83-77. However, the Skyhawks made a layup (0:42) and free throw (0:33) while Jefferson missed a three-point attempt in the final seconds. Stonehill was on its game offensively, shooting 53.8% (35-for-65) from the field with nine makes from beyond the arc.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Cunningham finished with a game-high 24 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
- Senior Beverly Kum posted a double-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and one assist.
- Senior Jessica Kaminski tallied 14 points and seven boards while junior Alynna Williams totaled 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
- Senior Erin Maher chipped in with five points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
AS A TEAM
- The Rams shot 35.1% (27-of-77) from the floor, 29.2% (7-of-24) from three and 72.7% (16-of-22) from the line.
- Jefferson forced 17 turnovers and scored 18 points off the miscues.
- Kaminski ends her career ranked in the program's all-time top-10 in points, rebounds, assists and steals. The CACC Player and Defensive Player of the Year sits ninth in points (1,497), eighth in rebounds (891), fourth in assists (437) and fourth in steals (227).
- The Rams are poised to return six players from this year's roster, including two starters (Caitlyn Cunningham and Alynna Williams) for 2019-20.