Huge second half powers Nichols over Blue Jays

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DUDLEY, Mass. – The Nichols College women's basketball team rang in the New Year with a 75-50 victory at the University of Saint Joseph on Tuesday night in non-conference action at the O'Connell Center in West Hartford, Conn.
The Bison (3-6) doubled up the Blue Jays (6-4) 50-25 in the second half to pull away for the victory. Nichols returns to Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action on Thursday morning when they travel to the University of New England for an 11:00 a.m. matchup.
Sophomore Jessica Larsh scored a game-high 18 points to go with three rebounds, three assists, and three steals to lead the Bison. Senior Brooke Packardadded 17 points and three steals, while classmate Allison Cerrato netted 14 points and four rebounds. Freshman Isabella Nerney scored eight points and had five rebounds and four assists, with freshman Shannon St. Lawrence posting five points, nine rebounds, and six steals off the bench. Senior Brittany Donovan also corralled nine rebounds to go with four points and two assists.
USJ was led by 17 points and seven rebounds from senior Kayla Guest, who scored her 1,000th career point in the process. Freshman Shaniyah Williams added seven points, while junior Diamond Wallen and junior Kenya Anselme added six points apiece.
Nichols shot a season-best 46.7% (28-of-60) from the field, including 4-of-15 (26.7%) of its three-pointers and 51.7% (15-of-29) of its free-throws. Saint Joseph could only muster 30% (18-of-60) shooting from the floor, while hitting 14.3% (2-of-14) of its threes and 60% (12-of-20) of its free throws. The Bison held a 45-38 advantage in rebounding on the night, while committing 21 turnovers to 23 miscues for the Blue Jays.
Both teams showed some rust early as the Blue Jays scored the first basket of the game with 7:14 to play in the opening quarter for an early 2-0 lead. USJ eventually built a 12-2 advantage following a free-throw from freshman Anna Chevarella, but a 6-0 run by the Bison capped by a three-point play from Packard pulled the Bison to within 12-8 with 2:28 remaining. The two teams traded baskets until a jumper from junior Mekaela Fithian-Giantonioended the first quarter with the Bison behind, 16-12.
Back-to-back jumpers from Larsh and Packard followed by a Cerrato free throw made it an 18-17 deficit with 6:23 remaining in the second quarter, and a three-pointer from Larsh at the 3:16 mark gave the game its first tie at 22-22. The score would remain deadlocked at 25-25 as Packard scored inside in the final minute of the period to end the first half.
The third quarter was all Nichols as they outscored the Blue Jays 25-11 in the frame to take a 50-36 lead into the final stanza. The Bison connected on 9-of-16 (56.3%) of their shots, including 3-of-4 triples, to build their 14-point lead.
Nichols carried the momentum into the fourth quarter, shooting a blistering 70.4% (10-of-14) from the field, to outscore the home team 25-14 in the final period and pull away for the 75-50 win.
All-Time Series
Nichols and Saint Joseph met for the eighth time in program history on Tuesday night, and the Blue Jays lead the all-time series, 6-2. However, the Bison have won two of the last three matchups against USJ.