Women's Basketball Breaks Long Drought In Season Openers

Shana Owen totaled 12 points, five rebounds and five steals in a come-from-behind win at Mercy on Nov. 15, 2017. (Steven R. Smith)
Shana Owen totaled 12 points, five rebounds and five steals in a come-from-behind win at Mercy on Nov. 15, 2017. (Steven R. Smith)

VALHALLA, N.Y. – Freshman guard Sophia Guerrier (Waltham, Mass.) scored all nine of her points in the final four minutes to help key Felician University's come-from-behind 60-53 non-conference women's basketball victory over host Mercy College on Wednesday night at Westchester Community College. Felician was playing in its first game of the 2017-18 season, while Mercy (2-1) staged its home opener.

The Golden Falcons ended a streak of 11 consecutive losses in season-opening contests, capturing its lid-lifter for the first time in the 10-year tenure of head coach Steve Fagan. The last season-opening victory for Felician came at home on November 16, 2005 – also against Mercy.

On Wednesday, Felician outscored the Mavericks, 42-25, in the second half. The Golden Falcons shot 48.4 percent from the floor after halftime, after posting a 23.5 percent clip in the first two periods. Mercy senior forward Latisha Clark (Peekskill, N.Y.) went 8 for 13 from the floor and netted a game-high 19 points with eight rebounds. Junior guard Danelle Gibson (Bronx, N.Y.) topped Felician with 15 points.

The Golden Falcons trailed, 15-6, after one quarter, and 28-18 at intermission. A second-chance jump shot by junior guard Chi-la Bady (Valley Stream, N.Y.) on the first possession of period three handed the hosts their largest lead of the night, a 12-point edge.

Felician embarked on an 8-0 run, using only 2:20 of game time, to pull to within 30-26. Both teams then went cold, and with 4:18 to play in the quarter, the visitors found themselves trailing, 34-27. But after a pair of Shana Owen (Philadelphia, Pa.) free throws, the Golden Falcons converted steals into lay-ups on consecutive possessions and were down by only one at the 2:17 mark of the third.

Felician completed the comeback with a pair of Marta Moix (Madrid, Spain) free throws, knotting the contest at 36-36. A three-point field goal by Maverick senior Monet Keane-Dawes (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was matched by a buzzer-beating trey from Gibson.

To start the fourth quarter, Felician received a lay-up from Kristin Smith (Hainesport, N.J.), forced a turnover, saw Kameron Stone (Bronx, N.Y.) nail a three-pointer, and never trailed again. A Clark lay-up brought the Mavericks within 46-43, but afterward, 3 ½ minutes ran off the game clock without either team scoring.

A successful Owen jump shot ended the stretch, putting Felician on top by five. Clark answered with a conventional three-point play, but Guerrier followed with a three-pointer with 4:00 remaining for her first collegiate points. The shot began a string of seven consecutive Golden Falcon points scored by Guerrier. By the time Mercy could again close to within one possession, 0:41 remained and it was forced to foul. Felician secured the victory by going 3 for 4 at the line in that time.

Owen finished with 12 points and five steals. Mercy's Keane-Dawes totaled 13 points and nine rebounds.

The victory allowed Fagan to tie his boss, Felician director of athletics Ben DiNallo Jr., for the program record of 91 coaching wins. Fagan makes his first attempt to hold the mark outright on Saturday at 3 p.m., when the Golden Falcons play New York Institute of Technology on Day 1 of the Regina Rivera Memorial, hosted by Dominican (N.Y.) College in Orangeburg, N.Y.