The Battle of the Boulev￼ard went down to the wire on Saturday, February 23 as the Lady Pioneers (18-7) upset the NYIT Lady Bears 71-62 behind the strong effort by sophomore guard Chelsea Williams. She dropped 19 points on an efficient 6-9 shoot- ing display from the floor. How- ever, she was cool under pres- sure when she nailed the most important shot of the game. With about 1:30 left in the second half, the Lady Bears chipped into the Lady Pioneers’ lead and made it a two-point game, 64-62. It felt as if the game may have been slip- ping away, but Williams drained a three-pointer making the score 67-62. The Lady Bears were un- able to recover after that point and the Lady Pioneers pumped their fists as they left the floor after knocking off a Lady Bears team that entered the game with a 22-2 record.
Despite a massive 33 turn- overs, the Lady Pioneers found a way to pull out a victory. One major reason why the Lady Pio- neers were able to take come away victorious was because they won the total rebounding battle against the Lady Bears 51-36. The ladies now have a record of 17-3 when they have more rebounds than their opponent.
The win against a rival so late in the season was crucial, but it was also a well-earned win on Senior Day. The Lady Pioneers honored its three seniors: for- ward Nicolette Marciniak, center Samantha Kopp, and guard Ashley Caggiano. All three contributed in the win in their final regular sea- son home game at the Pratt Cen- ter. Marciniak notched her eighth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Al- though she converted only one of her shot attempts, Kopp finished with nine points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Off the bench, Cag- giano played solid defense, grab- bing four rebounds and dishing out three assists.
To immediately begin the contest, the Lady Bears jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead within the first 90 seconds of play. However, junior guard Kenyatta Sears eased her team with a three-pointer to answer NYIT and make it 6-3. This may have been the Lady Pioneers’ first made basket, but it was significant because before that shot NYIT started the game with more emotion. After that basket, LIU controlled the tempo.
A big reason for the Lady Pioneers upsetting the No. 17 na- tionally ranked Lady Bears was the disparity the two teams shot frombehind the arc. The Pioneers relied on the three-ball and went 8-16 from deep. On the other hand, the Lady Bears only went 2-15.
In their limited time off the bench, juniors Nijah LaCourt, Shayna Gatling and Jalicia Connell all contributed. LaCourt hauled in eight rebounds in 10 minutes of action, Gatling chipped in with a couple of buckets, and Connell made one of the eight three-point- ers that the Pioneers buried.
With the win against NYIT, the Lady Pioneers have now won four consecutive games and their final regular season game is on Saturday, March 2 on the road against Molloy College (9-15) at 12 p.m.
The Lady Pioneers are in fourth place in the ECC with an 11-6 conference record. The seeding has yet to be determined for the ECC Tournament which is scheduled to begin starting Wednesday, March 6.