Mount St. Mary’s Clinches NEC Tournament Berth for Third Straight Year

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EMMITSBURG, Md. (WDVM) – The Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball team clinched a berth in the NEC tournament for the third straight year with a 71-55 win over Saint Francis U on Sunday.

“Huge win for our program,” said Mount head coach Maria Marchesano. “Not only because we’re fighting for a championship, but also because it was senior day.”

The mountaineers have four seniors on the team this year – Kendall Bresee, Bridget Birkhead, Kayla Agentowicz, and Rebecca Lee – who were all honored before Sunday’s game.

Bresee put on a stunning performance in her final regular season home game as a mountaineer, leading all scorers with a career high 29 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals.

A prime candidate for NEC Player of the Year, Bresee currently leads the conference in rebounding and in steals and is top five in scoring (third), assists (fourth), and free-throw percentage (fourth).

“I mean it’s not even close,” said Marchesano. “She’s the best player in our conference and she carried us tonight.”

Agentowicz and Birkhead each lit up the scoreboard on senior day with five and two points respectively, and Rebecca Lee collected her third double-double of the season with 11 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.

Michaela Harrison contributed 16 points to make her the second highest leading scorer for the blue and white. She also had three assists, two rebounds and a steal.

After only being up by three points at the end of the first quarter (15-12), Mount went on an 18 point that helped them carry a 20 point lead into the break.

The tides turned in the second half when the Red Flash got a spark by the NEC’s second leading scorer, Karson Swogger (averages 15.28 ppg), who came up with a four point play to shift the momentum to SFU.

“That third quarter…it was just about bouncing back,” said Marchesano. “It didn’t help that Kayla picked up her fourth foul because she is such a good defender. She’s hands down our best defender.”

Agentowicz kept Swogger to just two points in the first half, but foul trouble would hold her to under seven minutes of play in the second half, which opened up Swogger, allowing her to finish the day with 18 points.

A seven point game after the third quarter, Mount knew they needed to respond.

“We know basketball is a game of runs,” said Harrison speaking to the maturity her team has reached throughout this season. “We didn’t freak out. We are all just mature enough to know that in the game of basketball that’s [large runs from the opponent] going to happen. Should it have happened? No – because we know our defense is better than that, but we were just all calm [about it], and I think that’s why we won the game today.”

The home team responded with a Jessica Tomasetti layup that sparked a 9-2 Mount run to open up the final frame.

While basketball is a game of runs, it’s also a game of energy. SFU thought they found their spark with 7:14 left to play when Jada Dapaa came up with a big block on Bresee as she drove to the lane, which ultimately resulted in a technical foul on Dapaa after words were exchanged after the play.

“That kind of stuff get’s our girls going,” said Marchesano.

“That definitely added fuel to my fire,” said Bresee who went on to knock down her final two of five three-pointers made after that play.

Sunday’s win over SFU was Mount’s eighth consecutive win, and if they beat SFU again on Monday on the road, they can clinch the NEC regular season title – something the program has not accomplished since 2001.

“It’s our time,” beamed Bresee. “Nothing can stop us right now. We’re going to go day by day and we’re going to hopefully get the end goal which is winning a championship, because we’ve worked for it and this is the team to do it.”

Tip off for Monday’s (March 1st) game against SFU is at 6 p.m. in Loretto.

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