WASHINGTON, D.C. – Gallaudet University's women's basketball team sent their seniors off in style Sunday with a 73-54 victory over North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) foe Wells College at the Field House. With the win, the Bison (23-2, 20-2 NEAC) clinched the top spot in the NEAC and the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament this weekend at home.
After falling behind 2-0 early in the contest, Gallaudet rebounded in ferocious fashion; they regained the lead one minute and 32 seconds into the first half and kept it for the remainder of the game. At halftime GU led by 15, having racked up 38 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the field. For the game, the Bison held a 25 to six advantage in points off turnovers, held a 17 to six advantage in bench points and outscored the Express by 36-24 in points in the paint.
Center Nukeitra Hayes (Anderson, Ind.) and center/forward Easter Faafiti (Pittsburg, Calif.) were honored for their storied careers in the Buff and Blue. Each year, the last regular-season home game is designated as Senior Day, and the participating players and their families are honored in a short pre-game ceremony. In four years as a Bison, Hayes amassed 1,322 points, 814 rebounds, 248 assists, 202 blocks and 159 steals. She was named Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Rookie of the Year her freshman season. Faafiti racked up 1,010 points, 613 rebounds, 183 steals and 158 assists in her two years at Gallaudet. In her first season, she earned All-American honors and was CAC Player of the Year. This season, she has received numerous accolades including four NEAC Student-Athlete of the Week awards.
Hayes and Faafiti powered the Bison to victory with a combined shooting percentage of 73 percent from the field. Hayes had 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Faafiti scored 20 points for the game, had four assists and grabbed four rebounds – a season low. Individually, it was a bittersweet performance for Faafiti who netted her 1,000th career point on a tough layup from underneath the basket with 5:20 remaining in the first half, though as she saw her consecutive double-double streak end at 17 games. The other Bison to reach double figures was freshman guard Britny Latham (Cleveland, Tenn.), who had 13 points and four assists in the game.
For the Express (4-21, 4-18 NEAC), freshman guard Ashley Roser stole the show with 29 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Roser finishes the year with 21 double-doubles and leads the NEAC in scoring with 21.6 points per game. Roser is also tied with Faafiti for the NEAC lead in rebounding at 13.8 per game.
As the No. 1 seed, Gallaudet will host the six-team NEAC tournament this Friday through Sunday and will receive a first-round bye. Their first game will be held at the Field House on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. between either fourth-seeded SUNYIT (18-7, 16-6) or fifth-seeded Penn St.-Berks (13-12, 12-10). The Bison will need to win two games in order to claim the conference championship and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.