Release courtesy of Berkeley Athletics
The Berkeley College women's basketball team used a strong fourth quarter to survive a scare from the Lions of The King's College (NY) on Wednesday evening, as the Knights picked up a 69-54 win in a Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest. The game was played at Baruch College in Lower Manhattan. With the victory, Berkeley improved to 7-8 on the 2017-2018 campaign, and stayed an unblemished 3-0 in regional action. The Lions, meanwhile, dipped to 2-5 on the year, and 0-2 in conference competition. Following the game, Knights' Head Coach Alex Kuchar gave his thoughts.
"As it pertaint to us, it was practically a tale of two teams this evening," Kuchar said. "In the first half, we didn't play with aggressiveness, and I wasn't happy with our body language on the court. Then – you flip the script to the second half – and it was evident that we played with a lot more energy and effort. This conference is up for grabs, and we absolutely have to play more consistently if we want to be the team with the conference trophy on February 18."
The Knights' victory gave Berkeley College its first three-game winning streak in over three calendar years. The last time Berkeley put together a streak of three or more wins in a row was from December 6, 2014 through December 14, 2014, when the Knights put together five consecutive triumphs (victories included wins against Albany College of Pharmacy, The King's College (NY), Yeshiva University, Mid-Atlantic Christian, and Vaughn).
As it pertains to the 2017-2018 Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament (coming up February 17 and 18), the Knights inched closer to clinching a spot, as Berkeley needs just one victory in its final three league contests to gain entry into the tourney. In the unlikely event the Knights go 0-3 in their final string of conference games, they could still clinch a spot if Pratt, The King's College (NY), and Vaughn all lose one more conference game apiece.
The Knights were led by Ayana Ratlff's masterful performance, as she scored a game-high 34 points while tying for the game-high in rebounds with 14. Her five blocks and four steals were also game-highs, and she added three assists. Ebony Lofton put forth a strong effort – particularly in the fourth quarter. The sophomore forward scored nine of her 11 points in the final 10 minutes, while also snatching five of her 14 rebounds in the fourth as well. She also finished with a pair of steals and two blocks. Finally, it was Ashley Duplan contributing 11 points and seven rebounds in a winning effort.
Despite the loss for the Lions of The King's College (NY), Bailey Kaufman connected on four three-point baskets and finished with a team-high 23 points. She also tied for the game-high in assists with five. Megan Starnes posted a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, and Anna Eaves added 10 points and eight boards.
In a back-and-forth first quarter, Berkeley College led 4-0, and then trailed 6-4, before scoring five unanswered points to take a 9-6 lead. The Lions netted the final six points of the quarter to take a 12-9 lead after 10 minutes of action. A 6-0 run to begin the second quarter – highlighted by three consecutive baskets by Ratliff – catapulted the Knights to a 15-14 edge. After a converted free throw by Crystal Miller made it 16-14 Berkeley, The King's College (NY) would tie the game on a made jumper by Starnes. Following that, the teams once again traded runs, with Berkeley going on a 5-0 run to grab a 21-16 lead, before the Lions netted seven consecutive points to jump out ahead 23-21. Berkeley would then finish the half on a 7-0 spurt that featured a made layup by Duplan, a made basket by Ratliff, and then three converted free throws by Ratliff inside the final 29 seconds of the stanza. The Knights took a 28-23 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Berkeley College led 35-29 with 6:13 remaining in the third quarter, but The King's College (NY) would run off seven straight points in a span of 2:41 to take a 36-35 lead. That run featured a basket by Catie Shoemaker, a three point basket by Kaufman, and another hoop by Shoemaker. On the ensuing possession after the Lions took the lead, Miller would drill a three-point basket to put the Knights ahead by the score of 38-36. For the remainder of the quarter, Berkeley would outscore the Lions 8-5 to take a 46-41 lead after 30 minutes of action. A three-point basket by Bailey at the buzzer kept the Lions in the game, as the Knights were on the verge of running away with the game.
In the fourth quarter, the Knights – after struggling to find consistent rhythm up to that juncture of the game – absolutely dominated the fourth quarter, out-scoring the Lions 23-13 in the period to account for the 15-point victory.
Berkeley College connected on 42.6 percent of its shots from the floor (26-61) compared to a 26.9 conversion rate for the Lions (21-78). The King's College (NY) held a slight edge in the rebounding category, grabbing 49 boards compared to 46 for the Knights. The teams were nearly even in the turnover department, with Berkeley committing 16 miscues compared to 17 for the Lions. The Knights held a 10-4 edge in the steals category, while also blocking eight shots to The King's College's (NY) one.
Berkeley College will look to make it four consecutive victories on Saturday afternoon, as the Knights will take on the Vikings of Villa Maria. The game will take place at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, with start-time slated for 1:00pm. Prior to the contest, the Berkeley College Department of Athletics will take a few moments to honor senior Ashley Duplan in a special ceremony celebrating her two years of service to the institution's women's basketball team.