UTICA, N.Y. – The Gallaudet University women's basketball team overcame a sluggish first half against SUNYIT on the road Saturday and heated up in the final 14 minutes to win the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) game 66-59 and remain perfect on the season.
Gallaudet (10-0, 7-0 NEAC) is the only undefeated team in the conference as the Bison sit on top of the 12-team standings. The loss is the first in conference play this year for the Wildcats (7-2, 6-1).
The Bison were led by a trio that finished the game in double figures and played critical roles down the stretch for the Buff and Blue. The combination of seniors Nukeitra Hayes (Anderson, Ind.), Easter Faafiti (Pittsburg, Calif.) and freshman Britny Latham (Cleveland, Tenn.) scored 34 of Gallaudet's 41 points in the second half.
Hayes led the way with 22 points, 18 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and two steals. She was instrumental in the second half where she scored 16 of her 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. The 18 boards are a new season-high for the 6-foot center. The double-double is the second in a row this season, third overall, as she surpassed 20 points for the first time since GU began the season on November 22, 2010.
Faafiti scored 11 of her 19 points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds. The forward/center concluded the game with her fifth double-double of the season, third in a row, with 19 points and 14 rebounds to go with four assists and three steals. Latham scored a career best 15 points in the seven-point win.
As the freezing temperatures hovered in the 20's outside the Campus Center Gymnasium on the SUNYIT campus the Bison turned up the heat in the second half. The Wildcats increased their lead to nine, 43-34, with a Tamara Williams' (10 points, 11 rebounds) bucket at the 14 minute mark. GU began its rally from there and went on an 18-4 run over the next seven minutes to take a 52-47 lead. SUNYIT battled back and knotted the score at 56 on a basket made by Lyndsey Brognano (19 points), to mark the seventh tie of the game, with 2:50 left in regulation.
Gallaudet closed out the game at the free-throw line where it made 8-of-10 attempts to seal the win.
The Bison were a force in the paint where they scored 22 of their 41 second half points. GU outrebounded the Wildcats 44-34, 35 of the Bison rebounds came on the defensive end of the court.
Gallaudet trailed at halftime for the first time this season as SUNYIT took a 32-25 lead into the break. The Bison were held scoreless over the final 4:45 in the first half.
GU remains on the road and in conference action where it will face SUNY Cobleskill on Sunday, January 9, at Noon.