RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The 2011-12 Felician College women's basketball team finished in first place in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) North Division, its first league or division regular-season title in the 16-year history of the program. As a reward, the Golden Falcons earned the CACC North's No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament and the right to host a first-round playoff game for the first time since 2000.
Felician has not advanced past the first round of the tournament since that same 1999-2000 squad finished as the runner-up. To break that streak, this year's Golden Falcons will have to get past the University of the Sciences, the No. 4 seed from the CACC South Division. Felician will host U-Sciences in CACC first-round action on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Joal and Joe Job Gymnasium in Rutherford.
Felician (17-9, 14-5), which is making its second consecutive tournament appearance and eighth overall, is seeking its first conference championship. The Golden Falcons lead the country (among NCAA Division II schools) in field-goal percentage defense at .320 (through games of Feb. 19) and have established school records for winning streak (10) and conference wins (14).
Senior guard Destiny Barnette (Paterson, NJ/PCTI) is scoring 18.3 points per game, good for third in the CACC and among the top 20 nationally. Sophomore forward Trina Plummer (West Babylon, NY/North Babylon) averages 13.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the Golden Falcons, while junior forward Que Lyles (Bronx, NY/Banana Kelly) tops the conference with 3.3 blocks per game and the team with 8.8 rebounds. Felician is 10-1 at home this season and is riding an eight-game home winning streak.
U-Sciences (17-10, 13-6), from Philadelphia's University City neighborhood, has won two CACC titles, most recently in 2006. It enters this year's playoffs on a three-game win streak. The Devils are paced by freshman sensation Brianne Traub (Wayne, NJ/Eastern Christian), an eight-time league Rookie of the Week. Traub averages 16.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists. U-Sciences also receives 11.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from junior center Becca Ruggear (Oxford, PA/Oxford). The Devils are 7-8 in road games.
The Golden Falcons won the regular-season meeting between the teams, 77-63, on Feb. 11 in Rutherford. However, each team was missing a key component that day, as both Barnette and Ruggear sat out due to injury.
Directions to Job Gym are available at http://www.felicianathletics.com/information/directions. Ticket prices for Saturday's game are $6 for adults and $3 for children, students (with ID) and senior citizens. Children age three years and under will be admitted free. Felician will also offer an online Live Stats feed at http://livestats.prestosports.com/felician/wbkb/?e=n2bistm3qowplibz.
Caldwell College in Caldwell, N.J., will host the semifinals and finals of the CACC Tournament. Saturday night's winner will take on the Dominican (N.Y.) College-Goldey-Beacom College first-round winner on March 2 at Caldwell's Newman Center at either 5 or 7 p.m.
The 2012 CACC Championship Game is slated for March 3 at 7 p.m. at Caldwell. The winner of the CACC Tournament receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II East Regional, to be hosted by the region's No. 1 seed.