PHILADELPHIA – Trailing by a game-high nine with just over four minutes remaining, the No. 7 University of the Sciences women's basketball team got within two entering the final minute at No. 16 Jefferson on Thursday evening at the Gallagher Center.
Three late turnovers halted any potential comeback attempt though, as the undefeated Rams (13-0) handed the Devils (11-1) their first loss of the season in a battle of two of the remaining 10 unbeaten teams in Division II women's basketball.
After two missed free throws, University of the Sciences had a chance to tie or take the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter, but the Devils turned it over.
Jefferson then made a mid-range jumper to beat the shot clock on the other end, and turnovers on a second and third consecutive possession sealed USciences' first defeat of the campaign.
Hamm led University of the Sciences with 16 points – on 6-of-9 shooting - and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double. The freshman nearly had a double-double in the second half, where she recorded 10 points and eight boards.
Thomas fell one rebound shy of her second career double-double with 13 points, to go along with four assists.
Jordan Vitelli also had 13 points, making 3-of-5 3-pointers to move into sixth in program history with 163 for her career.
Irisa Ye had career-highs of nine rebounds and five assists, the former of which paced University of the Sciences.
USciences outrebounded Jefferson 41-35 thanks in large to a season-high 21 offensive boards, the Devils' most since they had 24 on Jan. 5, 2013 in a win over Concordia.
Jefferson had 16 offensive rebounds of its own though, winning the second-chance points battle 13-8, and the Rams forced 13 USciences turnovers, while only committing six, for a 21-4 edge in points off turnovers.
Twice Jefferson led by eight in the first half, including 21-29 with just over six minutes left.
University of the Sciences scored the next seven points, and Vitelli beat the halftime buzzer to make the score 29-34 entering the half.
The Devils then scored the first eight points of the second half in just 1:31 to go on top 37-34, only to have Jefferson come back with seven unanswered of its own.
A Brigit Coleman with 2:53 showing gave USciences its largest advantage of the night, 50-46, but once again the Rams had the answer with six unanswered to take a two-point with 10 minutes to play.
Jefferson would hold on to that lead for the rest of the evening, holding the Devils to just two points in the first 5:55 of the fourth.
University of the Sciences returns home for the first time in nearly a month this Saturday, Jan. 5 to host Bloomfield at 1 p.m.