Kyla Guilfoil, Managing Editor and Sports Editor
The Jaspers shook the competition after beating out third-seed Quinnipiac in the MAAC Championship quarter-finals and then knocking out second-seed Niagara in the semi-finals.
The back-to-back wins come after a rough season for the women’s basketball team. Quinnipiac and Niagara had bested Manhattan in both of their in-season match-ups.
Nonetheless, the Jaspers sent Quinnipiac home after the quarter-finals game with a score of 50-43, claiming a place in the semi-final against Niagara Friday night.
Sophomore forward Petra Juric dominated the court in the Thursday afternoon match, earning a double-double.
In a post-game interview, Juric said she came to win.
“It’s win or go home, and we are winning,” Juric said. “When you’re going into this game, it’s going to be a tough game, but we really held it together, held strong and we got this win.”
The Jaspers claimed the first points of the match, with Juric sending the first basket successfully, early into the first quarter. Sophomore forward Helena Galunic claimed the final points of the quarter as she hit a jumper and made the score 14-10.
The Jaspers grabbed onto their lead and went into the second quarter strong, reaching 21-14 by the halfway point of the quarter.
However, the Bobcats did not take the deficit kindly and attacked the back half of the quarter. After a series of successful baskets, a layup and a free throw, the score was left at 23-26.
The Jaspers kicked into overdrive in the third quarter, bringing in a strong defense. Senior forward Dee Dee Davis and Juric dominated the court through the back of the third, with two free throw points by Davis cinching a lead. The Jaspers left the third quarter with a score of 39-37.
Both teams’ scoring dropped in the final quarter, with spectators gripping their seats amid a close finish.
Juric and Davis each put up layups to get the score to 45-37. However, Caverly snuck up her own layup, grabbing an extra two points for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac took another run, getting the score to 45-41.
The Jaspers rushed as Caverly made a steal and set up Ella O’Donnell to make the layup that lead the score to 45-43.
The Jaspers’ senior forward Brazil Harvey-Carr claimed a space back on the court and knocked in two free throws with 24 seconds left on the clock. The Jaspers kept their lead, 47-43, but were biding their time.
Juric got a chance by the basket, too, and scored another two points from free throws as the clock neared 10 seconds. Both teams were on edge, the Jaspers holding tight to defense, and the clock ticked down to the final three seconds.
The Jaspers hit two free throws, and Davis got the score up to 50-43. With only the last three seconds ticking by, the Jaspers claimed their win.
In a post-game interview, the Jaspers’ head coach, Heather Vulin, complimented the team on their back-end defense.
“We really believe the little things add up to the big things,” Vulin said. “I really feel our locker room is really here to play to win and play hard for each other, and they did that, which equated to some really great defense in the second half for us.”
With their next game in the tournament against Niagara, Vulin said the team isn’t letting their previous losses against the team stop them.
The Jaspers last played Niagara on Jan. 19, losing 70-74.
“We’re going to really enjoy this win and then focus on taking care of business tomorrow,” Vulin said after Thursday’s game.
The Jaspers then played Niagara in the semi-finals on Friday afternoon, taking a clear win of 81-68.
This was the highest-scoring game of the season for the Jaspers, and senior Brazil Harvey-Carr claimed a career performance, scoring 27 points for the team during the game.
Sophomore Anne Bair played a key role in the team’s scoring, holding a 7-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
With Petra Juric knocking in her own handful of points, the Jaspers finished the first quarter with a score of 17-13.
However, Niagara put the pressure on the Jaspers during the second quarter, leaving the first half with a score of 39-37.
The Jaspers were not ready to go home yet, and by halftime Harvey-Carr had scored 17 points and the Jaspers were shooting an impressive 48 percent from the field and 75 percent from beyond the arc.
With the championship game on the horizon, the team locked in for the third quarter, getting the score up to 57-49. Emily Lapointe and Dee Dee Davis teamed up to get the final points of the quarter.
Second-seeded Niagara entered the final quarter with fire, taking a lead and getting the score to 57-58. However, fifth-year Narrie Dodson grabbed the ball and knocked down two baskets to reclaim the lead.
With the final stretch to go, the Jaspers dug their heels in and found a path to the championship game.
Bair was critical for the Jaspers’ success in the semi-finals.
“I think poise and composure was big today,” Bair said post-game. “We played Niagara twice, so we knew this was their style of play and they are one of the top teams in the country in steals and forced turnovers. So it was really important that we stuck together, helped each other out, met the passes, sealed to get open, and did all the little things to put ourselves in the best place in this game.”