Rochester, N.Y. — NYIT women's basketball has Battle of the Boulevard bragging rights. Big time.
The Bears, the lone team to defeat LIU Post in league play during the regular season, ousted the top-seeded Pioneers in the East Coast Conference semifinals on Saturday with an 80-78 win at Roberts Wesleyan.
The fourth-seeded Bears overcame a 16-point halftime deficit. They advance to face No. 2. St. Thomas Aquinas on Sunday at noon in the championship game for the right to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Maia Hood's offensive rebound and putback at the buzzer of Corinn Baggs' missed jumper proved the dramatic and decisive score.
Shannon Doyle's three-pointer with 14.2 seconds to go had evened the score for LIU Post (22-7).
"Coach told us all game, 'Just go for the offensive rebound,'" Hood said.
NYIT (19-11) has now ousted the top seed in the semifinals in consecutive years. The Bears snapped No. 1 Queens' 16-game winning streak a year ago in Bridgeport.
This time, NYIT stormed back from a 16-point halftime deficit to prolong the careers of first-team All-ECC selections Nina Vukosavljevic and Hood as well as senior guard Kayla Bomani.
Trailing 45-29, the Bears opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run that included a pair of three-pointers from Taylor Tripptree. NYIT eventually pulled even at 51 with 3:30 remaining in the quarter via a three-pointer from fellow freshman Shalie Frierson.
LIU Post had produced a 17-1 record in ECC play during the regular season — the lone loss coming in overtime to NYIT at Recreation Hall on Jan. 27.
In this meeting, Vukosavljevic had a team-high 19 points as well as five rebounds and seven assists. Hood had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The freshmen sensations Tripptree and Frierson had 16 points apiece.
"We gave up 31 points in the first quarter. That really hurt us," coach Kenny Parham said. "In the second half we locked down and made them work."
Provided by the NYIT Sports Information Department.