HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Gallaudet University's magical women's basketball season came to an end on Friday night as the Bison fell 62-45 to Juniata College in the 2011 NCAA Division III women's basketball championship first round game before a crowd of 606 at the Kennedy Sports and Recreation Center.
Gallaudet (24-4) hung with the host Eagles over the course of the first 10 minutes of the first half as the Bison only trailed by two, 15-13. Juniata (22-6), champions of the Landmark Conference, went on an 18-2 run to close the half and take a 33-15 lead into the intermission. The 18-point deficit is the largest the Bison faced all season and the 15 points was the lowest total the Buff and Blue posted in an opening half this year.
The Bison came out strong in the second half and scored the first five points to cut the margin to 33-20 but Juniata's outside shooting presence in the paint was too much in the end for the Bison.
Gallaudet made a historical run to the postseason as it began the season with a 20-game win streak, its longest in program history that dates back to 1896, which led to a national ranking where the Bison remained for over a month. GU finished the regular-season with a 20-2 record in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) where the Bison were co-champions with Keuka College. GU was selected as one of 20 at-large teams for this year's NCAA tournament. This marked the third appearance for the Bison in the NCAA tournament where they now sport a 2-3 record all-time.
The game marks the end of two legendary careers for seniors Nukeitra Hayes (Anderson, Ind.) and All-American Easter Faafiti (Pittsburg, Calif.). Hayes, a four-year letterwinner for the Bison, scored 11 points and brought down nine rebounds in her final game for the Bison. Faafiti, a junior college transfer, led the Bison with a team-high 14 points, 16 rebounds and made four steals and passed out two assists. The double-double is the 22nd of the season for Faafiti. Freshman guard Britny Latham (Cleveland, Tenn.) came off the bench and provided a spark with her long-distance shooting as she knocked down 4-of-10 shots from behind the 3-point line for 14 points.
Juniata was led by senior forward Erin McGinley as she scored a team-high 14 points while sophomore guard Jordan Speck was unstoppable from outside with 11 points, nine coming from 3-pointers.
The Eagles finished the game 8-for-19 from 3-point range (42.1 percent) and controlled the paint where it outscored the Bison 24-12 and scored 29 points off 29 Gallaudet turnovers. Juniata's depth also hurt Gallaudet as the Eagle bench outscored the Bison 35-16.
Juniata advances to Saturday's second round game where it will face No. 18 Greensboro College (27-2) as the Pride defeated No. 20 Saint Vincent College 83-66 in the other first round game.
Note: The national exposure for the Gallaudet University women's basketball team will hit a new level on Saturday morning (March 5) when the Bison story will be shown on ESPN's College Gameday basketball pregame show. The ESPN national college basketball pregame show will be live from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, from 11 a.m. until noon on the main ESPN channel. Please check your local listings for exact channel and if high-definition is available. The Gallaudet story is slated to run in the first half hour of the program.