MARCY, N.Y. - The SUNY Poly women's basketball team is heading to their fifth consecutive NEAC Championship Game after beating Penn State Berks on Saturday 87-73 in the first of two Semifinal games at SUNY Poly. The Wildcats will face off with Morrisville State in the NEAC Championship Game after the Mustangs took down the Lancaster Bible Chargers in the second NEAC Semifinal. The winner of Sundays Championship will receive the NEAC's bid to the NCAA Tournament.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Wildcats held the lead for the entire 40-minute game. However, that was not indicative of how closely contested the game was in the first half. The two teams battled hard in the first 20 minutes with SUNY Poly holding a slight edge thanks in part to their 60% shooting from the floor. Penn State Berk's Nicole Kopcik scored 17 of her 20 points in the first half to help keep the game within one point at the halftime buzzer.
The game turned the corner in the third for the Wildcats as they built their one-point halftime lead into a seven-point lead to end the third. Cassidy Albright (New York Mills, N.Y.) had a big hand in building the third-quarter lead. Eight of her 14 points were scored in the third. SUNY Poly built their lead up to 18 points, the largest margin of the game, with just under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
SUNY Poly was not without their struggles in the game. The Wildcats allowed 21 points off of 20 turnovers to Berks. The 'Cats defense and shooting kept the game in their favor. They shot 55% from the field and nearly 40% from three-point range.
Berks was strong on the glass and strong at the charity stripe where they held the statistical edge. The Nittany Lions shot an outstanding 82.1% from the free-throw line, hitting 23 of their 28 shots. They also held the edge on the glass, grabbing 36 rebounds to the Wildcats 33. Berks's weaknesses in the game were their field goal percentage, and their turnovers. They shot 37.7% from the floor and turned the ball over 20 times.
- The Wildcats were led by a 20 point, 11 rebound double-double by Molly Burdick (Johnson City, N.Y.). It was her ninth double-double of the season. She also had six assists and three steals.
- Jaida Washington (Elmira, N.Y.) scored 15 points in 21 minutes for the Wildcats. She had a game-high five blocks bringing her season total to 82.
- Cassidy Albright (New York Mills, N.Y.) played a great game for the Wildcats. She nailed a game-high four three-pointers en-route to a 14 point performance. She also had six rebounds and two steals.
- Taylor Aybar (Woodside, N.Y.) had 14 points for SUNY Poly. The point guard also had a game-high seven assists and three steals.
- Kayla Prosinski (Endwell, N.Y.) played some great minutes for the Wildcats off the bench. The senior had nine points in 15 minutes and knocked down three three-pointers.
- Nicole Kopcik led the charge for Penn State Berks. She stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. She shot 50% from the field and was a perfect 7-7 from the free-throw line.
- Kylie Herman scored 15 points for the Nittany lions. She also had seven rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
The Wildcats will take on Morrisville State in the NEAC Championship Game on Sunday, March 1st at 2:00 PM. The game will be played at SUNY Poly's Campus Center Gym. The Wildcats hold a 2-0 lead in the season series with the Mustangs. The last time they played, SUNY Poly came away with a 78-43 win on the road. The last time that the two met in a NEAC Championship was in 2017 where the Wildcats won 74-47 on their home floor. The Championship game will be live-streamed on the SUNY Poly Sports Network. Links for the game will be available on SUNY Poly's schedule page.
SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) is New York's globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem, formed from the merger of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and SUNY Institute of Technology. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience and nanoeconomics programs at its Albany location and undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences at its Utica/Rome location. Thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. As the world's most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts billions of dollars in high-tech investments and over 300 corporate partners since its inception. For information visit www.sunypoly.edu.