Women advance to third round of WNIT

Jason Jones and Jason Jones

The cases of little schools taking down big schools aren’t restricted to the NCAA Tournament. With a dramatic come-from-behind victory yesterday, the women’s basketball team sleighed the Big East’s Syracuse 72-69 in second-round WNIT action. ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to come away with that victory,’ coach Curt Miller said. ‘It’s not often we get a BCS school to come play here, and we took advantage of our opportunity.’ The postseason win vaults them into the third round of the WNIT, where they will meet the Indiana Hoosiers. The game started off rough for BG, as they found themselves trailing the Orange by 11 points midway through the first half. The troubles that plagued BG early were mainly on offense. The Falcons found it very difficult in the early going to create and find open shots. Through the first 13 minutes, BG only managed to hit three field goals. But a late first half run fueled by an aggressive Niki McCoy, who slashed her way to 20 points on the night, and some inspired play by the Falcons helped keep them in the game. ‘She stepped up in big moments tonight, and she proved she could play against elite competition,’ Miller said. The play of the half was one that saw McCoy steal the ball and miss a contested lay up at the other end. Lauren Prochaska then hauled in two rebounds before eventually draining a ‘fourth chance bucket’ to tie the game at 36. Syracuse managed to score once more before time expired and took a 38-36 lead into the half. The second half was an all out battle. BG, led by the extraordinary play of Prochaska, kept battling back all half until eventually taking the lead late in the game when Prochaska nailed one of only four BG three pointers. ‘She was fantastic,’ Miller said. ‘We went to her, and she didn’t shy from the moment.’ Prochaska’s final totals were 22 points and 17 rebounds, a more than solid double-double. On the subject of Prochaska’s final rebound total, McCoy said, ‘Wow.’ Following the three pointer from Prochaska, BG built their lead to four, the biggest lead the Falcons would have all game. Syracuse then kept matching them blow for blow, falling behind by two and then drawing close throughout the games closing minutes. With just eight seconds remaining, BG led 72-69. Syracuse’s Juanita Ward rushed the ball down court and found Tasha Harris for a look from beyond the arc. But just as she let the ball go Prochaska came sailing in to reject the shot, sending the ball out of bounds with just one second to play. Still, Syracuse had time for one last chance at a miracle. Erica Morrow caught an inbounds pass and put up a shot that was once again blocked by Prochaska, sending the ball sailing out of bounds and propelling BG into the next round. But as Anderson Arena roared and fans began storming the court, the jubilation felt by Falcon players and fans alike was replaced by a very uneasy feeling. Just out of bounds, a few feet from where her block had ended the game, was Prochaska laying on her back with tears in her eyes. Prochaska remained down for about two minutes before being assisted off the court. ‘You win and you have all of these emotions, then you see your star player down and your heart just stops,’ Tracy Pontius said. The injury is to Prochaska’s right knee, and the severity of it is not yet known. It will be a significant blow to the proverbial stomach of BG if Prochaska can’t play in the team’s third round game. Still, the feeling after the game was one of triumph.