PHILADELPHIA – Trailing for the first time since the midway point of the third quarter, the No. 13 University of the Sciences women's basketball team closed the game on a 6-0 run over the final 1:57 to break a tie atop the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) South by defeating No. 25 Jefferson 56-51 in a nationally-ranked battle on Wednesday evening.
The victory was the Devils' 15th straight, one shy of the longest streak in program history set in 2014-15.
With four games remaining, USciences (22-2, 14-1 CACC) now also holds the tiebreaker over the Rams (21-3, 13-2) thanks to a season sweep of the series, which includes a 72-67 overtime triumph on Jan. 6.
Jefferson took its first lead since the 5:06 mark of the third quarter with a layup to make the score 51-50 with just 2:49 to play. From there, University of the Sciences would hold the Rams scoreless.
52 seconds later, after a miss and a defensive stop, Alex Thomas began the game-ending run with two free throws.
The two teams then traded three empty possessions, the final one a Laura Trisch steal to give the ball back to the Devils with 1:03 left.
Jefferson missed two more shots on its final possession to bring its total to four missed shots and two turnovers over the final 2:18.
USciences held Jefferson to just 32.7 percent shooting for the game. The Rams scored just 34 points on 28.5 percent (12-of-42) shooting over the final three quarters, after scoring 17 points on 46.2 percent (6-of-13) shooting in the first period.
Ye's final two free throws capped a performance in which University of the Sciences made a perfect 11-of-11 from the foul line, the Devils' most makes without a miss in a single game since going a perfect 12-for-12 in the 2015-16 season-opener.
Notably, both teams turned the ball over 11 times but USciences took better advantage with a 16-2 edge in points off turnovers.
Trisch was the defensive catalyst with three blocks and two steals. She also grabbed 11 rebounds, nine of which were defensive as she moved into seventh in program history with 461 career defensive rebounds.
The two final free throws also capped a performance in which Ye matched her career-high with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, in 20 minutes off the bench.
She trailed only Thomas in the scoring column, as the junior scored eight of her 17 points in the fourth quarter to move into sole possession of 12th place on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,198 for her career.
Abbonizio was also in double-figures with 11 points to move into 14th all-time with 1,135 career points. She added six rebounds, a game-high four assists and a steal.
Colleen Walsh contributed eight points, three rebounds and two assists.
Jefferson went ahead by double-digits, 17-7, at the 1:35 mark of the first quarter and would take that advantage into the second, where the Devils made an adjustment and came out with the first 11 points in just 3:28 for its second lead of the half. Two Walsh 3-pointers sandwiched a Trish layup before Ye capped the stretch with a triple with 6:32 showing.
The two teams traded four lead changes and four ties over the final 6:16 and were deadlocked at 27 entering the locker room.
The third quarter was much of the same with four ties and two lead changes in the first 7:02, with the score remaining within a single possession until USciences took its first two-possession advantage, 40-36, on an Abbonizio layup with 1:19 on the clock.
Jefferson responded with a 3-pointer, but Abbonizio gave the Devils a 42-39 lead entering the fourth with a layup 17 seconds ahead of the horn.
Thomas scored four of the first six points of the fourth quarter, and University of the Sciences took its largest lead, 48-41, when Walsh made two free throws with an even eight minutes remaining.
Thomas also made two free throws 1:01 later for another seven-point advantage, 50-43, but USciences was held scoreless over the next 5:02, allowing Jefferson to take the late lead with eight unanswered.
University of the Sciences looks to match the program-record 16-game win streak on Saturday, Feb. 10 when it hosts Post for Senior Day at 1 p.m. In addition to honoring Abbonizio and Trisch, the Devils will also celebrate seniors Molly Greenberg, Haley Helms and Mary Kate Brokans.
USciences will also be selling "Play4Kay" shirts during the game. All proceeds will go to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund in honor of Jodi Miller, a former player who is currently battling breast cancer.