Women's basketball team suffers heartbreaking 78-77 defeat to Blue Angels in overtime of HVIAC semifinals; Ayana Ratliff pours in 40 points in loss

Women's basketball team suffers heartbreaking 78-77 defeat to Blue Angels in overtime of HVIAC semifinals; Ayana Ratliff pours in 40 points in loss

The Berkeley College women's basketball team saw its quest for its first Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title come to an end on Saturday afternoon, as the No. 3 seeded Knights suffered a tough loss to the No. 2 seeded Blue Angels of the College of New Rochelle by a score of 78-77 in overtime. The contest took place at the Wellness Center on the campus of the College of New Rochelle. The Knights finalized their 2017-2018 campaign at 9-12 with the loss, while the Blue Angels  (10-13) will face Davis College in tomorrow's championship game at 1:00pm. Following the game, Berkeley Head Coach Alex Kuchar gave his thoughts on tonight's defeat - and the season as a whole.

"Tonight was a very disappointing loss for us, as we fell short of one of our ultimate goals which was to come here, win tonight, and then give it our best shot tomorrow to win a Regional title," Kuchar said. "We executed our game plan, and we did everything we wanted to do. This game was close throughout. When we went up 61-60, unfortunately we weren't able to muster offense for a while at that point. It's definitely a loss that'll take a long time for me to get over. As for the student-athletes on this team, I can't say enough about the heart and determination they should throughout the 2017-2018 season. The players came to work every day. They were unflappable - and were the most coachable group that I've ever been around. We will be back in this tournament next season, and I'm confident that this loss here tonight will only make us hungrier and stronger."

Leading the way in defeat for Berkeley College was Ayana Ratliff put forth one of the most dominant performance in tournament history, as she poured in a game-high 40 points while also snatching 14 rebounds, dishing five assists, and tallying a team-high four steals. Ashley Duplan drilled four three-point baskets to finish with 14 points. She also grabbed 14 boards, as well. Crystal Miller contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, and a pair of steals. And Finally, it was Eboby Lofton grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds.


For the College of New Rochelle, Dar'Neisha Brice connected on five three-point baskets to finish with a team-high 30 points. She also added game-highs of seven assists and seven steals. It was her clutch basket with two seconds remaining in the overtime session that proved to be the difference in the game, as that jumper put the Blue Angels ahead for good with two seconds remaining in the extra period. Aaliyah Fields posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Caitlin Harrison contributed 10 points, 13 rebounds, and three assists on for the thrilling one-point victory.


In what was easily in instant tournament classic, the College of New Rochelle raced out to an early 7-2 lead in the opening 2:56 of action. The Knights used a 5-0 run - thanks to a three-point basket by Ayana Ratliff and a bucket by Crystal Miller - to tie the game at seven apiece. The Blue Angels would then use the ensuing 3:18 to re-take the lead and build that advantage, going on a 9-2 run to catapult ahead by a score of 16-9. A layup by Ratliff - and a three-point basket by Ashley Duplan - brought Berkeley College to within two points at 16-14. Dar'Neisha Brice of New Rochelle would convert on a three-point basket with nine seconds remaining in the quarter to put her team up 19-14. The score would remain that way as the opening period came to a close.


The Blue Angels would score the first two baskets of the second quarter to take a 23-14 lead - their biggest lead of the game up to that point. Later - with New Rochelle holding on to a 28-23 lead - the Knights would score five consecutive points to tie the game at 28-all. New Rochelle - after not scoring a point over a span of 3:14 - would close the half with Madisyn Rosato knocking down a three-pointer from the corner. As the teams entered the locker room at halftime, the Blue Angels held a 31-28 edge.


In the third quarter, the Knights kept the game close - and eventually took the lead when Duplan knocked down  a three-point basket to give her team a 42-41. A pair of free throws by Crystal Miller extended Berkeley's lead to 44-41 - and a made layup by Ratliff gave the Knights a 46-41 advantage. Later - with 1:59 left in the quarter - Miller connected on two more freebees to push the Knights ahead 48-41. The Blue Angels would score five of the final seven points in the quarter to pull to within 50-46 through 30 minutes of action.


Berkeley College held a slim 61-60 edge with 4:42 remaining - and the score would stay like that for 3:44 until Brice would split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 61 apiece. On the Knights' ensuing possession, Miller would turn the ball over - and New Rochelle would take the lead when Melissa Perez would drain a three-point basket to make it 64-61 Blue Angels. Later - with nine seconds remaining and Berkeley down 64-62 - Ratliff would drive to the basket and make a layup to tie the game at 64-all. That is the way the score would remain as the game headed to overtime.


Things looked very promising for the Knights with 15 seconds remaining, as Berkeley held a 77-73 lead following two successful free throw attempts by Ratliff. On the Blue Angels' next possession, New Rochelle's Aaliyah Fields would hit a three point basket with 12 seconds left to bring New Rochelle to within one at 77-76. On the ensuing in-bounds play, Ratliff caught the ball and would get fouled. She would proceed to the line where she would misfire on two attempts. On the second miss, Fields would collect the rebound and pass it to Brice, who would dribble inside the three-point line and pull up for a 14-foot jumper and drain it to give her team a 78-77 lead. Berkeley College wasn't able to get a shot off after that, and the Blue Angels held on for the thrilling one-point victory.

Remarkably, the Blue Angels attempted 93 shots on the afternoon, converting on 29 of them (31.2 percent). Berkeley College shot 28-68 on the day (41.2 percent). Neither team shot well from the charity stripe, as New Rochelle missed a whopping 14 free throws (8-22, 36.4 percent), and the Knights misfired on 11 (15-26, 57.7 percent). Berkeley held a 60-55 edge in the rebounding department, while also recording six blocks compared to two for New Rochelle. The Blue Angels did record 18 assists to the Knights' seven, while also recording 17 steals to Berkeley's nine. Perhaps the most glaring statistic of the day was the turnover differential, with the Knights committing 29 miscues to New Rochelle's 18.