#20 Lebanon Valley Drops Widener To Defend CC Title
ANNVILLE, Pa. - Intensity was high from the opening whistle, as well it should be in a conference championship game. From the moment #20 Lebanon Valley won the opening tipoff, Widener's defense pressed.
As the game wore on, the Dutchmen were able to play to their own strengths and walked away with an 80-71 win and the Commonwealth Conference title.
Freshman Kiely Chaklos led all scorers with a career-high 27 points and was named tournament MVP.
The Pride (18-9) worked to keep the tempo high, and were successful through much of the first half. Jennifer Egee scored 12 total points in the half, including a pair of three pointers, to help Widener to a 37-33 lead at halftime.
But with aggressive play often comes mistakes. Widener sent LVC to the line 19 times in the second half, and the Dutchmen sank all 19 shots.
Both teams had to fight until the very end. Widener held its final lead with 3:45 to play at 63-62. From then on, the Dutchmen were able to put on a show for a home crowd of about 1,130. They outscored the Pride 18-8 in the final three and a half minutes, including 10 points from the line.
Caitlin Murphy completely deflated the Pride with a 10-foot jumper in front of the home bench. Chaklos found Murphy wide open with 53 seconds to play; Murphy nailed her shot to give the Dutchmen a 74-71 lead.
The shot put Widener into panic mode. Deflated, they committed three fouls in the final minute, sending Chaklos to the line twice and Murphy to the line with just a second on the clock.
Chaklos was one of five Dutchmen in double digits: Tierney Hiltz (15), Renee Fritz (13), Caitlin Bach (11), and Murphy (10). Bach posted her fifth double-double of the season with a game-high 11 rebounds.
En route to being named MVP, Chaklos also posted two rebounds, three assists, and three steals. She shot 11-for-12 from the free throw line.
Egee led Widener with 22 total points. Lil Carney scored 16, and Francesca Lee added another 11. Carney also finished with a game-high eight assists. Lee led the defense with seven rebounds.
This is the second consecutive title for the Dutchmen in five straight appearances in the conference finals. Widener bested LVC 75-72 in double overtime in the 2009 championship. At 151 total points, Saturday was LVC's highest scoring game of the season. The game was played at a fast pace; the Dutchmen averaged just 15 seconds per scoring possession.
With the win, they receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and remain in the running to host the opening rounds Friday and Saturday. The selection show will take place Monday at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on NCAA.com.