GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – The Queens College women's basketball team punched its ticket to the Elite Eight on Monday night, defeating the Molloy College Lions, 70-60, to capture the NCAA Division II East Regional Championship. It is the Knights' first regional title in program history.
Senior Madison Rowland was named East Regional Most Outstanding Player after scoring a game-high 24 points and adding 13 rebounds for her 17th double-double of the season. Redshirt senior MacKenzie Rowland was also named to the All-Tournament Team after recording her Division II-leading 22nd double-double of the season with 20 points and a season-high 18 rebounds.
The Lions got to the foul line early and converted from the stripe to take a 4-0 lead before redshirt senior Joya McFarland put Queens on the board with a three-pointer 2:16 into play. Defense turned into offense for the Knights, as Madison and junior Merrick Rowland snagged three quick steals, and a Madison triple tied it at six. Queens took its first lead 4:18 into the first on a layup by freshman Beth Bonin in transition, but Molloy answered to tie it at 8-8 at the first media timeout. Sophomore Kaitlyn Mahon put the Knights back on top by two on a deep jumper, and a bucket by Madison gave Queens a 12-8 lead after the first. The Knights held the Lions to just 20 percent shooting in the period.
Queens came out firing to start the second quarter, opening the period on a 10-1 run. Molloy was forced to burn a timeout after Madison buried back-to-back jumpers to put the Knights up, 19-9. Queens extended the lead to 13 at 22-9 with 5:21 left in the quarter before Molloy found its groove. The Lions worked it down to a four-point game on a 9-0 run with 3:02 on the clock after a three by Maggie Salomone to cap a 9-0 run. However, the Knights quickly answered on a MacKenzie jumper to take a 24-18 lead, as the Knights ended the half on a 12-2 run and held a 10-point advantage, 30-20, at halftime.
It was all defense for the Knights in the first half, as they limited the Lions to just 28 percent shooting overall, while Queens also held a 27-14 rebounding advantage. Madison found her groove early, scoring 18 before halftime to lead all scorers.
Molloy cut the deficit to six at 32-26 1:55 into the second half, but then Queens scored the next six points to take a 12-point lead. The two teams went back-and-forth, as the lead remained in double figures, and then Mahon sank a jumper and drew a foul with 2:50 remaining in the quarter, making the free-throw to put Queens up, 48-34. With 1:15 to go in the period, MacKenzie battled for an offensive rebound and put it home to give the Knights a 52-39 advantage, and after a jumper by Shantana Kanhoye, Queens found itself up, 52-41, going into the fourth. MacKenzie reached her season high of 17 rebounds by the end of the third quarter.
The Knights held on to the 11-point lead after a Madison layup with 7:26 to go and again with 6:28 on the clock, as she placed in another layup. Queens worked it to a 12-point lead after a three by Merrick, but Molloy got two quick buckets to cut the deficit to single digits, 59-51, with 4:57 to go. Mahon worked her way inside for a layup on the Knights' next possession, while Aliyah McDonald hit a triple for Molloy to bring the Lions within seven at 61-54. MacKenzie then made a fadeaway jumper to give the Knights a nine-point edge with 3:53 left in the game.
After two minutes of scoreless play, Kanhoye made a jumper to bring the deficit back down to seven, and with 1:31 left in the game, Symone Kelly brought Molloy within five after two made foul shots, 63-58, forcing a Queens timeout. Out of the timeout, MacKenzie made a layup to push the lead back to seven with just 1:03 remaining. Mahon, Madison and Bonin combined to go 5-for-6 from the charity stripe over the final 43 seconds, sealing the deal, 70-60, as Queens earned the regional crown.
The Knights absolutely dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Lions, 50-30. Additionally, Queens had 21 second chance points, compared to just four for Molloy. The Knights shot 40.9 percent overall, while keeping Molloy in check, as the Lions shot 36.7 percent from the field.
Queens advances to the Elite Eight (National Quarterfinals), which will take place on Tuesday, March 21, in Columbus, Ohio.