Saints Edge Raiders in Fourth Quarter Nail Bitter

Posted on February 24, 2010 by

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By Michael Caracciolo

What should have been a cakewalk for the Emmanuel Saints Women’s Basketball team Tuesday night turned out to have the ferocity and stone cold edge of a Heavyweight Title bout.

The number one seed Saints faced off against the eighth seed Rivier Raiders in the Quarter finals of the GNAC playoffs looking to make good of their 19-5 regular season record.

The first half went back and forth each team exchanging blows, struggling to find their rhythm. The Saints gave up most of their points in the low post off of broken plays pushing the Raiders to show tenacity, scrambling for balls and finishing tough shots.  The tone of the game was set early as both teams dug in, squared up, letting the humming atmosphere of the packed gymnasium fuel the fire, encouraging no shortage of flying elbows. The Saints remained poised however, and pressuring the point-guard full court, forced a few turnovers which would prove to sway the momentum of the first period. Iman Davis calmed the offense and it was neck in neck as the first half dwindled to a close until the Saints unleashed a hail of threes with a couple minutes left, walking into the break up by nine.

The Saints came out firing on all cylinders in the second half pounding the hardwood with a five-player full-court press, leaving Kristen Lebel, Tiaunna Nieves and Casey Shevlin scorching the top of the key like bandits. The fevering pace would break soon after however, and late in the second half the Raiders came galloping back with the blunt force of a freight train cutting the lead to five with two minutes left.

The tension on the court spilled over to the sidelines and cascaded into the crowd due to questionable calls going for both sides.

With the fate of the game so near at hand Raiders coach Kelly O’Connell was storming the court relentlessly, screaming her protests. Saints coach Andy Yosinoff could barely hold in his emotion bursting out in his signature squeals of disgust, tearing at what hair he has left. Even the crowd was growing rambunctious, parents and students alike taught with rage, one bellowing out to the gym after a hard foul, “That was assault!”

The Rivier Express was derailed just in time, the Saints stopping the onslaught with lock-down defense and stifled the surge with two clutch free throws knocked down by Lebel.

The clock ticked to zero with the Saints holding the Raiders at bay, 68-60.

They lace up again on Thursday night against the Simmons College Sharks who are coming off of a big upset win against fourth seed Emerson.

The GNAC Semifinals will tip-off at 7pm at Emmanuel’s Jean Yawkey Center gymnasium.

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