Second Half Comeback Lifts Vassar Over RIT, 60-54

By Amie Canfield

ROCHESTER – It was a hard-fought come-from-behind effort on Saturday afternoon as the Vassar women’s basketball team turned a 10-point deficit at halftime into a 60-54 victory over Rochester Institute of Technology in Liberty League action at Clark Gymnasium. The Brewers – winners of three straight and eight of the last nine – move to 8-6 overall and 7-1 in league action. The Tigers are now 7-5 with a 4-3 Liberty League mark.

RIT’s defense played the hero in the opening half and solid shooting was the driving force that saw the homestanding Tigers take a 35-25 lead after the opening two quarters. In the third, junior Kaleesha Joseph put the Tigers up by 12, but a coast-to-coast layup by senior captain Sarah Gillooly helped move the gap back to 10 (37-27).

RIT continued to answer, but the Brewers eventually found their rhythm beyond the arc, turning a 39-33 deficit into a tie game as senior captain Dani Douglas and rookie Tash Thompson connected for a 39-all game with 1:31 left in the third. That momentum continued as Vassar then took it’s first lead of the contest on a Thompson layup and a Gillooly free throw in the final seconds which sent the Brewers into the fourth up 42-39.

Final quarter action saw Joseph head to the free throw line early, but a three from junior Alex Lee at 9:28 expanded Vassar’s lead to 45-41. A floating jumper by freshman Sydney Pearson dropped it back to a two-point margin (45-43) and a pair of Joseph free throws tied the game at 45-all at 8:12 of the frame.

Down by one (48-47), the Tigers answered as senior Alyssa Juergens dropped in a jumper for the 49-48 lead with 6:03 remaining. Off a missed layup, Juergens rang it up once again, sinking the jumper inside for a 51-48 edge. Vassar answered off an RIT turnover, as junior Alex Lee stole the ball, driving it in for the layup to close the gap to one (51-50) at 4:11.

RIT countered as sophomore Emma Waite drained a layup, but Gillooly answered on the other end to keep it close (53-52) at the 3:21 mark. It was a tense battle after that as neither team could find the net until the 47 second mark as a huge three from Douglas turned a one-point deficit into a 55-53 lead off a feed from Gillooly to force an RIT timeout.
The Brewers went into defensive mode out of the break, capitalizing as junior captain Eliza Srinivasan stole the ball and drew the foul at the 26 second mark against the Tigers.

Another RIT foul finally sent Douglas to the line at the 24 second mark, making one of two for the three-point (56-53) lead to give the Tigers back possession.

A tough foul against the Brewers at 14 seconds sent Waite to the line, hitting one of two to make it a two-point (56-54) game. Out of a Vassar timeout, the Brewers once again took advantage of a Tigers foul, sending Douglas to the line as she drained both to open the 58-54 lead at 13 seconds, forcing another RIT timeout.

Srinivasan’s fifth steal of the contest quickly sent the junior to the line as she was fouled at the mid-court. Banking both free throws, the Brewers went up 60-54 and held strong in the final seconds for the victory.

Leading the Brewers was Douglas, who dropped in 20 points with two rebounds, an assist and a block for the contest. Gillooly recorded her second double-double of the weekend, laying down 17 points and 14 rebounds to go along with a game-high four assists and two steals. Srinivasan added four points, six boards and a game-best five steals, while Lee and Thompson each recorded eight points.

For RIT, Joseph led all players with 22 points and a game-high 18 rebounds for her double-double. Waite added 14 points with six rebounds, three assists, a block and two steals, while Pearson dropped in eight points and five boards.

Vassar is back on the court on Friday, January 21 when it heads to Loudonville, NY and the campus of Siena College to take on Rensselaer in league action at the UHY Center. No spectators will be allowed for the games. RIT is also in action on the 21st, heading to Canton for a tilt against league-leading St. Lawrence. Both games begin at 5:30pm.

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