ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Freshman Gillian Mair sank three-pointers 43 seconds apart late in the second quarter to trigger what turned out to be the game-turning run for the University of Rochester in its second round NCAA playoff victory over Marymount University.
The Yellowjackets defeated the Saints, 53-42, at the Louis Alexander Palestra and advanced into the Sectional Semifinals (Sweet 16) round of the playoffs. Rochester will play RIT in one semifinal with defending national champion Amherst College taking on Montclair University in the other semi. The site will be announced by the NCAA on Sunday.
Rochester boosted its record to 23-4. Marymount ended its campaign at 25-4. UR is ranked #16 in the current poll conducted by D3hoops.com. The Yellowjackets are ranked #15 by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Marymount is ranked #17 in both polls.
Mair finished with a game-high (and career high) 13 points in 23 minutes off the bench. She was 5-10 from the floor, 3-3 outside the arc. Alexandra Leslie scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Lauren Deming scored 11 points and collected seven rebounds.
Regan Lohr scored 12 points to lead Marymount. Tyffani had 11 points. Nicole Viscuso scored six points for MU and Leah Hurst had eight. Viscuso got into early foul trouble. Freshman Taylor Love filled in admirably with four points, two blocks, and 10 rebounds – all defensive.
"Marymount is one of the top two best defensive teams we've played this year," said Rochester coach Jim Scheible. "Especially in the first 12 or 13 minutes of the game, they did a really good job."
It was 15-11 MU with just under seven minutes to play in the second quarter. Rochester didn't get on the board until the last three minutes when Leslie made a layup. She swapped baskets twice with the Saints. When McQueen drove for a layup, the visitors had a 21-15 lead with 1:51 left in the quarter.
Leslie found Mair for a kick-out three-pointer with 1:37 left (21-18). Just 43 seconds later, Mair sank another trey from right wing, tying the score at 21. The crowd erupted.
Mair wasn't nervous. "I got my nerves out (Friday)," she said, referring to Rochester's first round win over Stevens. "I heard the crowd (cheering) after the first three-pointer. When I made the second one, I've never heard the crowd that loud before."
Rochester led by one at halftime. The lead changed hands four times in the third period with the margin never getting above three points either way. Mair's third trey – this one less than two minutes into the last period – put Rochester up by four. It grew to six, but Marymount cut it down to two (41-39) on a layup by Hurst with 4:34 left. It hovered between four and six until the last two minutes when Rochester hit six free throws to seal it.
"I think (the players) did a nice job stepping into the passing lanes so we could take the ball away and go the other way," said Marymount coach Ashlee Rogers. "We got into some foul trouble, but Taylor Love did a great job defending Leslie."
The senior admitted that. "Having (Viscuso) on the bench and not in the game helped us," Leslie said. "The freshman was very defensive oriented. When Viscuso came back in, she gave them help offensively and every boxout was physical."
"I wanted to be the best teammate that I could," said Mair of her night.
Leslie and the other five seniors are returning to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years. They know it's not done by one person.
"Every team will have players who step up," she says. "We've seen Brenna James do it before, Lauren (Foley), and Lizzy (Atkinson)."