Women's Basketball

Lady Vikings Rally But Fall Short

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 210-4161

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Thursday, March 14, 2002

March 14, Corning, N.Y. - The hole was just a bit too deep for Hudson Valley Community College's women's basketball team to climb out of. After falling behind by 19 points in the first half of their opening NJCAA Division III national championship tournament contest, the Lady Vikings battled back in the second 20 minutes but couldn't completely bridge the gap.

Hudson Valley trailed New Jersey's Passaic County Community College by just five points, 48-43, with 3:10 remaining in the game, but Passaic hit its free throws down the stretch and hung on to post a 58-45 victory.

"The way we played in the second half, that's the Hudson Valley team I know," said Lady Vikings' head coach Colleen Ferris. "Even if we'd gone into the locker room at halftime down by 25, I was confident that we could come back. We're a good enough team."

Lindsey Bradt of Bishop Maginn led Hudson Valley with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Center Meghan Squires, of Hoosic Valley, had 10 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.

Hudson Valley (26-5), the No. 4 seed in the national championship tournament, will play again at 1 p.m. on Friday, taking on unseeded Ridgewater College of Minnesota (16-12), which lost Thursday to the tourney's No. 1 seed, Illinois's College of DuPage (25-4). Unseeded Passaic (29-4) will tackle DuPage in the winner's bracket at 6 p.m. Friday.

The Division III tourney is an eight-team, three-day event. Only the top four squads are seeded, and each team plays all three days.

If a team loses once, it cannot win the national title. Now, Hudson Valley cannot finish higher than fourth.

While the larger Passaic squad played a physical brand of defense, Hudson Valley struggled in the first half, committing 16 turnovers and shooting just 21 percent from the field. When the buzzer sounded to end the half, Passaic held a 34-15 advantage.

"We certainly dug ourselves a hole," said Ferris, recently named District A Coach of the Year. "We haven't played in a week and a half."

But the fight had not been vanquished from the Lady Vikings. They handled Passaic's second-half pressure with poise and ripped off a 19-8 run to start the session, cutting the Passaic lead to eight points.

Bradt had eight of Hudson Valley's 18 points during the stretch.

Then, with 7:38 remaining, the two-time Region III Player of the Year was knocked to the floor. When Bradt rose, she clutched her hip and stumbled to the bench in obvious pain. Point guard Megan Davis came to the bench next, suffering from a sore neck.

Backups Jill Valachovic and Casey Brinkman, a Troy High graduate, helped continue the Hudson Valley rally.

"Our bench stepped up today," Ferris said. "They played well."

Bradt reentered the game with about five minutes remaining and promptly drilled a 3-pointer. Carolyn Keeler, a Cohoes native who finished with 11 points, then hit a pair of jumpers, pulling the Lady Vikings to within five points, 48-43.

Passaic did not hit another field goal over the game's final three minutes, but the Lady Panthers made 10 free throws in that span to hold off Hudson Valley.

"We can still play strongly in this tournament," Ferris said. "We've got two games left, and we can go home with just one loss. We'll be ready to play tomorrow."