WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gallaudet University women's basketball team upset No. 17 Lebanon Valley College in the GU Holiday Tournament championship game on Sunday at the Field House as the Bison needed overtime to defeat the Dutchmen 80-69. GU last upset a nationally ranked team in the 1999 GU Holiday Tournament when the Bison surprised Capital University from Ohio with a 78-75 win in the championship game. The victory is the biggest under Coach Kevin Cook, now in his fourth season, as the Bison continue to set new records under his guidance and conjure up comparisons to the late 1990's teams at Gallaudet.
The Bison (3-0) led 65-59 with 1:28 left in regulation but turnovers and missed free throws allowed the Dutchmen (5-1) back into the game as Tierney Hiltz (15 points, eight rebounds, eight steals) made a lay-up with 26 seconds left to knot the game at 65 and force overtime.
Lebanon Valley entered the extra frame with the momentum but Gallaudet quickly squashed that in the opening minute and spun the momentum in its favor for the remainder of the game. GU scored the first eight points in overtime. Sophomore guard Shaquana McDonough (Pembroke, Mass.) netted six of Gallaudet's final seven points in overtime in the last two minutes to seal the victory. McDonough scored a career-high 23 points as she netted 13 points in the second half and six in overtime as she played all 45 minutes.
All-American center/forward Easter Faafiti (Pittsburg, Calif.) was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player as she scored a game-high 20 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, passed out five assists and made four steals. Faafiti was unflappable at the free-throw line as she made 12-of-14 attempts. The senior finished the two-day tournament with 38 points, 16 rebounds, 13 steals and eight assists. Fellow senior center Nukeitra Hayes (Anderson, Ind.) recorded a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds while she made a team-high six steals and four assists. Hayes and McDonough were selected to the all-tournament team.
The loss is the first for the Dutchmen this season. Lebanon Valley posted a 23-5 record last year and made its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
The game featured seven lead changes and four times the Dutchmen tied the game in the second half but never got the lead away from the Bison. Gallaudet outscored Lebanon Valley 44-34 in the paint and 15-14 on second chance points. The Bison also flexed their muscle on points off turnovers as they held a 35-25 advantage. The Dutchmen turned the ball over 30 times in the loss.
GU got off to a strong start as it shot 42.4 percent from the floor in the first half but had to do so without Faafiti who was hit with two quick fouls and received a third foul midway through as she only logged 12 minutes. Freshman Zamica Gage (Washington, D.C.) came off the bench and scored six of her 12 points in the first half. The Bison took a five-point lead into halftime up 32-27.
The Dutchmen were led offensively by forward Suzie Noyes who scored 18 points and made 11 rebounds to record a double-double. LVC had four players in double figures in guards Andrea Hoover (13 points), Hiltz and Lauren Ruhl (10 points) along with Noyes. Ruhl was the Dutchmen representative on the all-tournament team.
In the GU Holiday Tournament consolation game, Medgar Evers College (1-6) won its first game of the season with a 41-39 victory over Penn St.-York (0-5). The Cougars were led by all-tournament selection Chantal Biscette who scored 15 points and made 18 rebounds in the win. The Lions were represented on the all-tournament team by guard Jennifer Fink (nine rebounds, seven assists, three steals).
Gallaudet will host Wilson College on Wednesday, December 1, at 6 p.m. The game will mark the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) debut for the Bison.
GU Holiday Tournament
MVP: Easter Faafiti (Gallaudet)
Nukeitra Hayes (Gallaudet)
Shaquana McDonough (Gallaudet)
Lauren Ruhl (Lebanon Valley)
Chantal Biscette (Medgar Evers)
Jennifer Fink (Penn St.-York)