Things didn’t look too promising early in the second half on Friday night for the Husson University women’s basketball team.
The Eagles trailed DeSales University of Pennsylvania by double digits in the third quarter in their NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament game at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
But it was the shooting of Chandler Guerrette that helped pave the highway to history for the Eagles.
Guerrette spearheaded a late third-quarter run with three straight 3-pointers en route to a game-high 28 points as coach Kissy Walker’s club earned a 74-72 first-round victory over DeSales of Center Valley, Pennsylvania.
It was the program’s first-ever NCAA postseason victory and the 23-4 Eagles will play at 5 p.m. Saturday against sectional host Tufts, which defeated Saint Joseph’s College of Standish 65-44 later Friday.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words at what it means to the program,” Walker said. “I’m just so proud of how tough these kids play.”
DeSales finishes at 20-8.
Even though the Eagles trailed by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, it was the shooting of Guerrette that willed Husson back into the game as the period wound down.
The Presque Isle native scored Husson’s final nine points of the quarter as the Eagles entered the final 10 minutes trailing 49-48.
A Sami Ireland layup early in the fourth quarter allowed Husson to tie the game (52-52) for the first time since early in the first quarter.
Then, with just over six minutes remaining, a Darla Morales 3-pointer from the left side gave the Eagles a 57-55 lead. Husson never trailed again.
“We’ve been making history all year, so we just wanted to keep the ball rolling,” said Guerrette, who connected on 13 of her 15 free-throw attempts on the night.
“Once we got on top we just wanted to stay on top and take care of the ball,” Guerrette said.
Five Eagles scored in double figures, with Morales and Maegan True each scoring 11 points and Kenzie Worcester and Ireland netting 10 apiece. Ireland also snared nine rebounds.
Walker felt the X-factor for her club was the fact that it did not have to face a host seed in their tourney opener this season.
“The goal really since last year when we got to the NCAA tournament was to win the NAC again and to get back and win a game,” she said.
Husson led 5-2 early in the first quarter but that was quickly erased, and DeSales never trailed the rest of the half.
DeSales was paced by Morgan McCollian’s 21 points while Megan Baird tallied 17 and Morgan Birmelin added 13.