BRISTOL, R.I. – With a 60-57 win over third-seeded Endicott College in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Women's Basketball semifinals, the second-seeded Roger Williams University Women's Basketball team earns its first berth to the CCC Championship Game in program history.
The win moves the Hawks on to face University of New England in the CCC championship game. The UNE Nor'easters closed out their semifinal game on a 19-5 run to eliminate the Salve Regina Seahawks by a score of 59-49. The two teams will face each other in the CCC championship game at University of New England on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The loss ends Endicott's season with an overall record of 20-7 and 14-4 in the conference.
The Hawks opened the game on a seven-point run, though both teams would struggle offensively in the first ten minutes. The rest of the half was a back-and-forth battle, with score tied four separate times and five lead changes. Endicott forward Samantha Crough (Cohasset, Mass.) would get it going for the Gulls offensively and finished the half with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting. In the waning seconds of the half, Endicott missed two shots from under the basket, leading to a coast-to-coast layup by Hawks' guard Angelica Ariola (Prospect, Conn.) as time expired. Roger Williams shot only 36.4 (12-33) from the field, while Endicott posted 44.8 percent (13-29).
The offensive trend would continue in the second half, with both teams shooting 35.5 percent from the field (11-31), but this time it was the Hawks in control. Senior forward Kaitlyn Bovee (Berlin, Conn.) opened the second with two quick baskets and continued to play strong on both ends throughout the rest of the game.
With the Hawks up seven points after a three-pointer from Ariola, the Gulls looked for one last run in the final minutes to keep their season alive. Crough knocked down two clutch free throws to bring Endicott within four points. Hawks' forward Shannon Cullen (Walpole, Mass.) would be fouled on the inbound pass and sent to the line for a 1-and-1, where she missed the first. Endicott would respond on the other end with an offensive rebound and put back by Endicott forward Kelsey Cuddy (Madison, Conn.) with 17.1 seconds left. A turnover on the inbound pass to Bovee would give the Gulls possession again and a chance to tie the game; however, they would turn the ball over as well, forcing them into an intentional foul situation with just seconds remaining. Endicott sent Ariola to the line, who hit her first free throw, but missed the second, leaving the Gulls down three with five seconds remaining. Endicott would fail to get a shot off, ultimately ending their season and advancing Roger Williams to the CCC championship game.
Despite being out-rebounded, the Hawks were able to control the paint with 32 points coming from inside. Ariola led the Hawks in scoring with 21 points, shooting 7-of-15 from the field. After missing the last game due to a foot injury, Bovee played through the pain and put up 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting in addition to her nine rebounds. Senior guard Ari Renwick (Westwood, Mass.) added ten points and five steals.
Crough was the high-scorer for the Gulls with 21 points on 9-of-18, with nine rebounds. Cuddy added 13 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, and Kelsey Whall (Foxboro, Mass.) chipped in with 11 points and five boards off the bench.