Ravens Game Tying Shot Goes Off the Mark, #13 Bentley Rallies Down 15 to Upend FPU in Season Finale

Freya Cooney (Photo Courtesy of Dan Forget Photography)
Freya Cooney (Photo Courtesy of Dan Forget Photography)

This Franklin Pierce University women's basketball recap is presented by Belletetes

WALTHAM, Mass. (February 26, 2019) – Franklin Pierce University women's basketball sophomore forward Freya Cooney (Woodbridge, England) scored 10 of her career-high 12 points part of an 18-3 game-opening run in the first quarter, however no. 13 nationally-ranked Bentley University came back to narrowly defeat the Crimson and Grey 57-55 Tuesday evening in the regular season finale at the Dana Center. With the win, the Falcons conclude the campaign at 26-2, 20-1 NE10 while Pierce wraps up the 2018-19 year at 4-22, 2-19 NE10.

Cooney was 6-of-11 (54.5%) from the floor, corralled three rebounds, blocked two shots and came up with two steals. She was one of four Raven players in double-figures including freshman guard Lisa Sulejmani (Burlington, Vt.) who scored a team-high 15 points on 6-of-12 (50%) shooting, dished out a game-high six assists and snagged five caroms. Classmate Izzy Lipinski (Farmington, Conn.) tallied her sixth double-double of her impressive freshman season scoring 10 points and coming down with a squad-best 10 boards.

Falcon senior center Victoria Lux tallied a double-double with a game-high 17 points and 16 rebounds – four offensive. Eight of her 17 markers came in the fourth quarter. The Ravens defensive until held their counterparts to their fourth-lowest field goal percentage of the season (20-of-55, 36.4%) and their fourth lowest efficiency from beyond the arc (6-of-25, 24%). They outshot Bentley both from the floor and from long range but missed five free throws which could have been the difference in the game.

Pierce began the contest producing the Falcons 18-3 over the opening seven minutes. Lipinski opened the scoring with a turnaround jumper with the shot clock winding down. Sophomore guard Sophia Holmes (Oakland, Maine) then knocked down a jumper to lead 4-1. Cooney then manufactured 10 of the next 14 Raven points all in the low post to expand the Raven edge to 18-3. An Amy McConnell post drive coupled with a Maddy Springfield bucket and a McConnell long-range stroke brought their deficit down to eight, 18-10 with a minute to go. The squads would not score over the final minute as the Ravens led 18-10 after the first quarter.

In the first quarter, the Ravens were 9-of-16 (56.3%) shooting and forced the host Falcons into eight turnovers. Pierce scored 10 points off those eight miscues.

Sulejmani pushed the Ravens back in front by double-figures, 21-10 halting the 7-0 Falcon spurt with a three-point bomb. Lipinski then corralled a feed down on the right block from Sulejmani and kissed a layup off the glass for the potential three-point play. She missed the freebie keeping the Ravens in front 23-11. The Ravens 7-1 second quarter opening binge continued when Sulejmani drained a baseline jumper upping their edge to 25-12. A Katie Meriggioli wide-open left corner trifecta dropped the Bentley margin to single figures, 27-18. Sulejmani regained the double-digit Raven lead until Meriggioli knocked down another three making the score 29-21 with 3:13 left in the half.

Meriggioli then brought the deficit to two possessions, 29-23 via a fast break deuce. Two Claudia Tucci (Trumbull, Conn.) free throws and a Holmes trey moved the Ravens ahead by nine, 34-25 with 26 ticks left. Two Julia Ford free throws dropped the Falcon deficit to seven 34-27 at the intermission.

Three straight buckets for Bentley brought them within one point, 34-33 via three post scores. The Ravens took a 30-second timeout looking to cool the host momentum. Sulejmani came out of the stoppage and pulled up at the elbow for two. Holmes then drained a top of the point three following a defensive stop making the lead two possessions, 39-33. Bentley stormed back to deadlock the game 41-41 after two deep range trees off the shot of bench players Ford and Marissa Fontaine. They took their first lead 46-44 off another Fontaine three-pointer. A transition bucket where Sulejmani found sophomore guard Hanna Everidge (Baldwinville, Mass.) down low tied the game. Fontaine then airmailed a pull-up jumper keeping the battle tied at the end of three.

Lux drop stepped a layup on the left block and then used her left hand for back-to-back hoops moving Bentley back into the lead 50-46. Two Holmes charity stripe attempts kept the Ravens within two until Meriggioli back door cut towards the rack for an and1. Lux carried over the 9-2 Falcon run with an offensive score down low increasing the lead to 55-48. Sulejmani answered on the next possession on the left wing with a three dropping the Raven deficit to 55-51.

With under five minutes to play, Sulejmani dished the rock to Lipinski in the post and she powered an attempt off the glass and in pulling her squad within two, 55-53. The Ravens took another timeout and missed their shot attempt, Lux then continued her strong fourth quarter with another two increasing the lead to 57-53. The teams failed to score until Lipinski threw up a shot that went in while being hacked, she missed the freebie keeping her team down two, 57-55 with 1:19 left. The Falcons had a couple of chances to put the Ravens away, grabbed two offensive rebounds and their last shot with five seconds remaining was snared by the Ravens. Coach McKillop took a timeout with four seconds to go, sophomore guard Demi Akins (Cambridge, Mass.) inbounded the ball to Sulejmani who went off a screen and fired a runner that clanged off the glass and hit the floor.

For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://www.fpuravens.com). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens ), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce women's basketball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://www.fpuravens.com/store). You can also follow the women's basketball team on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FPURavensWBB) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/franklin_pierce_wbb/).