The LIU Post Lady Pioneers basketball team’s season came to end with a 57-56 loss to the Southern Connecticut Owls in the first round of the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament.
This is the second year in a row that Pioneers fell in the first round of the tournament.
Senior guard Felicia Joyner led the Lady Pioneers with 16 points in the loss. Sophomore guard Alexis Peters added 13 points of her own, while contributing nine assists and three steals. As a team, the Pioneers shot 39 percent (21-53) from the field and 33 percent (3-9) from three-point range.
In the first half, LIU Post went on an 18-4 run to jump ahead of the Owls 22-9. The run was highlighted by layups from junior guard Ashley Caggiano, Peters, and Joyner, and sophomore guard Kenyatta Sears. The Owls were able to move within ten points at the end of the first half trailing 27-17.
The Lady Pioneers extended their lead to 16 points early in the second half with buckets from Peters and junior forward Nicolette Marciniak, as well as two free-throw shots added by Joyner.
But that lead would begin to disappear as the half progressed. With 13:28 left in the half, Owls’ senior guard Alex Fiola hit a three pointer to cut it to a 12-point Pioneer lead. Sophomore center Moni Smith-Ocran made a lay up to cut the lead to 10. The two teams would trade baskets, but the Owls’ Smith-Ocran hit a layup to make it an eight-point game. Senior guard Sylvonya Moore made another layup to cut it to a six-point lead and then followed with a jump shot to make it a four point Owls deficit.
Trailing by two, Fiola stole the ball from the Lady Pioneers and, with 6:08 left to play, Smith-Ocran tied the game at 45. Joyner answered back with a jump shot and Peters hit one of two free throws and moved the Pioneers back ahead by three. But, Owls junior forward Keshia Primo made a layup and was fouled on the play. She hit the free throw and tied the game once again.
The Lady Pioneers and Owls traded the lead for several minutes, but LIU Post managed to pull ahead by five with 1:37 left to play.
Once again the Owls quickly chipped away at the Lady Pioneer lead. Owls sophomore forward Shaniqua Fuller made a layup on an Owls fast break and was fouled by Marciniak. Fuller hit both of the subsequent free throws to make it 57-56 Pioneers. Fiola fouled Joyner with 14 seconds left in the game, but she missed the front end of her one and one free throws. Primo came down with the rebound for the Owls and Southern Connecticut got the ball to Moore, who quickly moved the ball up the court and made the game winning layup with 4.7 seconds left in the game.
Felicia Joyner was able to get off one last shot for the Pioneers, but fell short and the Owls held on for the 57-56 victory.
The Pioneers finished the season with a record of 21-10, their highest win total since the 1987-88 season. It also marks an end to the careers of Catherine Lutz and Joyner.
Lutz, a graduate student, played one season with the Pioneers. She put up 243 points over the course of this season and averaged 7.8 points per game. Joyner, a senior, averaged 16.9 points per game this season and scored a total of 525 points this year. Over her four-year career at Post she scored 1,563 points.
As a team the Pioneers averaged 73.8 points per game and shot .412 from field goal range and .323 from beyond the arch.