ARLINGTON, Va. - The top-seeded Marymount University women's basketball team earned its second-straight conference title, first-ever in the Atlantic East Conference, holding off a fourth-quarter rally by second-seeded Cabrini University on Saturday afternoon in the Converse Family Fieldhouse to claim the league title, 77-68.
With the two squads splitting the regular-season series, the championship game did not disappoint, as the first quarter saw just a slight one-point edge in favor of the Saints, 19-18. In just that 10-minute stretch, there were five ties and one lead change.
The small advantage was short lived in come the start of the second quarter when Cavaliers' Ashley Tutzauer, who finished with a game-high 21 points off the bench, knocked down a long ball on the restart to give Cabrini its last lead of the game, 21-19. On the next offensive possession for the Saints, senior Tyffani McQueen dished off a pass to senior Abby Fisher, who drove the lane for the finish.
The score remained tied for over four minutes, as a scoring draught didn't see the next bucket go in until 5:11 left in the half when freshman Katie McShea powered up for a left-handed finish. The layup by McShea spurred a 14-4 run to close out the half, giving Marymount a double-digit lead to take to the locker room, 35-25.
A quick three-pointer by the Cavs out of the locker room cut their deficit to seven, but the Saints continued to battle on the offensive end, answering every basket Cabrini made. A high-scoring 23-22 third quarter put the Saints out ahead by 11 heading into the final frame, seeing their biggest lead of the game reach 16 points with 2:42 left in the third.
The fourth saw the momentum sway slightly back in favor of the Cavaliers, inching closer through the period to get within three following a long ball by Kate Lannon and a layup by Tutzauer. With just 2:20 left in the game, the Cavaliers had the score to 69-66.
Composure played key for the Saints, holding steady with their advantage and knocking down 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes off the hands of junior Regan Lohr and sophomore Aidan Phillips.
McShea led the Saints with 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting, being named the tournament's most valuable player during the awards ceremony. Lohr and McQueen also had strong offensive performances with 16 and 15 points, respectively, while each sending out game-high four assists.
With the Atlantic East Conference being newly formed, there is no automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament for the first two years. However, the Saints remain in the hunt for an at-large bid to the big dance. Marymount will find out if its season will continue on Monday, February 25 at 2:30 p.m., for the NCAA DIII Women's Basketball Selection Show.