RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The No. 17 University of the Sciences women's basketball team held multiple 13-point leads in the first quarter, as well as an 11-point advantage late in the third, but the Devils had to use an 11-0 run over the final 3:37 – and a career-high 27 points from Sarah Abbonizio - to hold off Felician, 63-51, in Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) action on Saturday afternoon.
Felican got as close as one, 52-51, for the first time since the opening minutes of the game with 4:11 remaining, only to have USciences hold the Golden Falcons scoreless for the remainder of the contest.
That highlighted a performance in which University of the Sciences held Felician to just 29.3 percent (17-of-58) shooting, the lowest by a Devils opponent this season and the seventh opponent it has held under 35.0 percent shooting in the last eight games.
Jordan Vitelli came up with the momentum-turning shot, nailing a 3-pointer on the next trip down the floor after Felician had cut the defect to one to begin the game-ending run.
The USciences defense took over from there, forcing the Golden Falcons to miss their final six shots over the final 2:42.
The Devils (17-2, 9-1 CACC) on the other hand scored on five of their final six possessions with Abbonizio following Vitelli's triple with a layup, before her, Alex Thomas and Colleen Walsh combined to go a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line in the final 1:24.
That capped an 18-for-22 (81.8 percent) performance from the free throw line, compared to just 61.9 percent (13-of-21) for Felician.
That also capped the career afternoon for Abbonizio, who made of 8-of-13 field goals in the effort including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and 7-of-8 from the foul line.
Thomas was the only other Devil in double-figures with 17 points, to go along with a season-best eight rebounds. The junior moved up two positions to 15th in program as she now has 1,117 career points.
Laura Trisch led all players with 10 rebounds to move into 11th in program history with 599 for her career.
Irisa Ye set a new career-high with five boards and Vitelli fell one shy of her career-best with seven.
University of the Sciences outrebounded Felician 45-31 for a season-best in both rebounds and rebounding margin.
Notably, Marissa Sylvester tied her career-high with two steals.
USciences found itself in two early deficits, 0-3 and 3-5, before 15 unanswered after the second one broke the game open.
Abbonizio first tied the score at five before Trisch, Thomas and Abbonizio made three consecutive 3-pointers.
Abbonzio then made a free throw before yet another trifecta by the senior gave University of the Sciences an 18-5 advantage 6:33 into play, capping a stretch in which she scored nine points in the 15-0 flurry that lasted 5:04.
The Golden Falcons got as close as nine, 26-17, in the second quarter but USciences still took a 36-26 advantage into the break, and the Devils still led 44-33 with 2:09 to go in the third and 47-38 after three quarters.
Felician (5-11, 3-6) made their move with the first six points of the fourth quarter to make it a single-possession game for the first time since early in the first quarter and after the Devils reestablished a six-point lead, the Golden Falcons scored five in a row to make it a one-point game with 4:11 to play.
University of the Sciences goes for its 11th straight victory, which would be its longest since the school-record 16-game win streak in 2014-15, when it travels to Georgian Court on Wednesday, Jan. 24 for a 6 p.m. tip.