FLUSHING, NY – The Queens College women's basketball team extended their season-long win streak to seven after defeating University of the Sciences, 67-60, in nonconference play on Monday night. Junior Merrick Rowland led four Knights in double figures with 18 points, but it was the team's defense that wound up providing the major edge in the victory.
Queens College stole the ball away 14 times and pressured the Devils into making a total of 20 turnovers before the game was through. Merrick led the team with a season-high five steals, while Madison Rowland and MacKenzie Rowland each had three. The Knights then took full advantage of those added opportunities on the other end, outscoring their opponents by 12 in points off turnovers.
The Devils streaked into tonight's game winners of their last 10, the last five of which were all by double-digit margins. Perhaps sensing the occasion, the Knights pounced to a quick 11-0 lead three minutes into the game. Junior Marina Ramon Lopez had four points during the opening stretch, and Merrick nailed a three-pointer to stretch the lead to double-digits. The margin held until the 4:51 mark when the visitors were finally able to crack the Knights defense on a layup by Sarah Abbonizio. Two baskets apiece from seniors Joya McFarland and Madison later restored Queens' advantage back to 11 at the quarter mark.
After forcing seven turnovers in that first quarter, the Knights went on to shoot 50 percent from the floor during the second period to carry their lead out to as many as 14. McFarland scored six points during the stretch, four coming from jumpers on consecutive possessions near the end of the period to make it 34-20. The Devils only managed a free throw before halftime to go into the break down 34-21.
University of the Sciences did what they could in the second half to chip away the deficit. They connected on four three-pointers in the third quarter alone, the last one cutting the margin to nine, 44-35, with 4:03 remaining. Queens then responded with a 5-0 spurt to ramp the lead back up to 14 but gave away five unanswered in the final minute to restore the Devils' momentum.
The momentum carried into the fourth, with the Devils extending their run to 10 between quarters on baskets by Abbonizio and Alex Thomas. Lopez halted the run momentarily with a layup to put the Knights back ahead by six with 8:46, but never further until the game's waning moments. The Devils made it to as close as three, 57-54, with 2:59 remaining after a three-pointer by Abbonizio, and it could have been even more threatening if not for Queens generating another timely turnover. The Knights prevailed in the end with a hard-fought 67-60 victory by converting enough of their free throws down the stretch and getting two important blocks from MacKenzie on three-point attempts in the game's final minute.
MacKenzie had three blocks in all to go along with 12 points and 10 rebounds for her twelfth double-double of the season. Madison connected on two three-pointers and 7-of-12 overall to post 16 points, and McFarland had a season-high 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting to round on the Knights' balanced attack. Queens College's record now stands at 15-3. Meanwhile, Abbonizio led the Devils in scoring with 15 as the loss dropped her team 16-3 on the year.
The Knights stay at home for next Saturday's conference matchup with conference foes NYIT. Game time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to open Queens College's "Play for Pat" doubleheader, in which both basketball teams will honor the lives of legendary college head coach Pat Summitt and cherished former-Knight Patrick Parker.