College of St. Joseph's women's basketball team travels to Buffalo, N.Y. to face Villa Maria College on Friday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. The game marks the first round of the Northeastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoff tournament.
In the first matchup between the Saints and Villa, the Vikings pulled away in the third quarter to secure an 82-71 win. CSJ had an early 15-12 lead after the fourth quarter, but Villa scored 19 points to the Saints' 14 in the second frame to take a 31-29 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, the Vikings notched 27 points to build enough of a cushion to secure a victory over the Fighting Saints - though CSJ outscored them 26-24 in the final frame.
First-year Fighting Saint Dymond Collins played the best game of her young career, scoring a game-high 25 points and pulling down a game-high 15 rebounds. She also had two steals in the loss. Collins' classmate Aliesha Thomas recorded 17 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals for CSJ. Sophomore Daija Black notched 10 rebounds, six points and three assists. For Villa, junior Shaquana Owens notched a triple double by way of 16 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Nina Cray tallied a double double though 17 points and 14 rebounds and Bianca Brown netted 20 points.
Owens was named NIAC Player of the Year after finishing the regular season averaging 23.3 points, 12 rebounds and 8.3 assists per contest. The game against CSJ was one of 10 wherein Owens recorded a triple double. She is in the running for United States Intercollegiate Athletic Association National Player of the Year. Brown was named to the NIAC First Team after posting 18.2 points per game and a 34.2 percent shooting percentage from downtown. Cray was named to the NIAC Second Team after finishing the year averaging 12.8 PPG and 11.1 RPG. Villa Maria coach Al Monaca was awarded NIAC Coach of the Year.
The Lady Saints finished the regular season 11-12 overall and 2-3 in conference play, earning a #4 ranking for the NIAC Tournament. CSJ has been heavily relied upon Thomas (Brooklyn, N.Y.) to provide a spark during games; she was recently named to the NIAC All-Conference First Team. Thomas leads the Saints in scoring (12.9 PPG), steals per game (2.9) and is second on the squad in rebounds per game (5.7). Black (Germantown, Md.) has also been a key contributor for the Lady Saints, and was recently selected to the NIAC All-Conference Second Team. She is the second highest scorer for CSJ (11 PPG) and leads the team in assists per game (2.5). Black also averages 4.7 rebounds per game and 2.4 steals.
Collins (Chester, Pa.) has been a key factor in the post for the Lady Saints. She is the third on the team in scoring (9.9 PPG) and second in rebounding (5.5 RPG). The forward also notches 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Classmate Arielys Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) averages 8.2 PPG and 1.2 steals per game. Senior Alexius Brooks(San Antonio, Texas) collects 6.3 RPG, good for most on the team. She scores 5.8 PPG on average and tallies 1.2 steals per game. Point guard Madison Akins (Hudson Falls, N.Y.) records 2.2 assists per game.