PHILADELPHIA – The No. 6 University of the Sciences women's basketball team built a double-digit lead midway through the third quarter of its NCAA Tournament Second Round matchup with Le Moyne on Saturday evening, but the Dolphins stormed back to overcome the Devils 63-56 in a packed house at Bobby Morgan Arena.
The Devils (30-3) took the largest lead of the evening for either team, 38-28, when Jordan Vitelli scored her sixth straight point with 5:37 showing on the third quarter clock.
Le Moyne (26-5) rallied all the way back to tie the score at 39 when a layup in the final minute of the period capped an 11-1 surge, but Irisa Ye's late 3-pointer put USciences back on top entering the fourth quarter.
The Dolphins scored the first 12 points of the final period though, holding the Devils scoreless for the first 5:34, to take their largest lead of the evening, 51-42, when a layup capped a 23-4 run with 4:45 remaining.
University of the Sciences got as close as five twice, on a Collen Walsh 3-pointer with 2:36 remaining and two Vitelli free throws with 2:01 to play, but could never make it a single-possession game.
The Devils actually outshot Le Moyne percentage wise from both the field and 3-point range, making three more field goals and four more 3-pointers, but there was a major discrepancy at the foul line.
Le Moyne made 27 of its 34 free threes, while USciences made 10 of its 14.
The Devils also turned the ball over 19 times to the Dolphins' 11, which led to a 26-11 disparity in points off turnovers.
University of the Sciences ends its year with a second straight 30-win season, matching last year's program record. The Devils also set or tied program records for regular season wins (26), Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victories for a 19-game league schedule (18), national ranking (No. 4), East Region Ranking (No. 1) and win-streak (18).
The season culminated in USciences hosting the first NCAA Regional in the history of the University.
"They graduate as the all-time winningest class in program history. That right there makes them very special," said Head Coach Jackie Hartzell after the game. "They came in and worked hard every day and they really turned the program around. As good as they were on the court, they are even better off the court. They are going to be really successful in life, and we are going to miss them."
It was Ye, a sophomore, who led USciences on the night with 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including a perfect 3-of-3 3-pointers to break the program's NCAA era single-season scoring record with 561 points.
She also moved into fifth in the program's single-season annals in field goals made and seventh in free throw made, ending the night with 195 and 133, respectively.
Vitelli was the only other Devil in double-figures with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Freshman Kendall Keyes provided a spark off the bench with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting.
Mikaela Giuliani recorded a career and game-high six assists while also blocking a shot to finish the season with 45, tied for seventh in the program's single-season history.
Walsh led University of the Sciences with five rebounds.
The game was played within a single possession for the entirety of the first quarter, which ended with USciences on top 10-7 after a late Vitelli triple, and the Devils scored the first four points of the second quarter to cap seven unanswered for the largest lead of the first half, 14-7.
Le Moyne answered with a 10-2 flurry to go on top 17-16 with 4:39 to go in the half but University of the Sciences came right back to take the lead 13 seconds later, and the Devils would lead the remainder of the half, taking a 27-22 advantage into the break after a Thomas jumper.
The two teams traded two baskets each to open the second, before Vitelli scored her six straight points as part of a 6-1 surge for the game's largest lead.