DOYLESTOWN (PA) – Fifth-ranked FDU-Florham completed an undefeated regular season and handed Delaware Valley College its first loss of the year at home as the Devils notched an 87-73, Freedom Conference victory.
FDU-Florham, the defending conference champions, improved to 25-0 overall and 14-0 in the Freedom. The Aggies fell to 15-10 overall and 8-6 in the league, but will head to the Freedom Conference tournament for the first time since 2010. And it will be a rematch of these two teams, this time in Madison, New Jersey on Wednesday, February 26 (7:00 p.m.) for the semifinals.
Eastern University will host DeSales University in the other tournament match-up. The winners will advance to the Freedom Conference Championship Game at the highest remaining seed on Saturday, March 1 with the winner earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
When the game ended and Delaware Valley had lost by less than 15 points, the Aggies had a chance at the number three seed as a DeSales win over Eastern would have into play a wild tiebreaker involving point differential (capped at 15 points). However, Eastern earned the sweep of DeSales this season and Delaware Valley will head to FDU-Florham where they handed the Devils their last regular-season loss in last year's finale.
Delaware Valley hit its first shot of the game when Agatha Drozd drained a trey from the elbow for its only lead of the contest at 3-2. From there, FDU-Florham put together a 17-4 run, highlighted by eight points from Leigh-Ann Lively, to open up a 16-7 advantage eight minutes into the game.
After a layup on the other end from Brenna Coll, the two teams exchanged a pair of three pointers as Lively drained another one but it was answered with a trey from Delaware Valley's Kelsey Kilpatrick. Alyssa McDonough hit the next one for the Devils but it was Kilpatrick who responded again from downtown for the Aggies. Eireann Anastasi added two free throws to pull Delaware Valley to within seven ,22-15, with 7:26, but FDU-Florham eventually took a 38-24 lead into the break.
Lively was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and had 13 points in the half for the Devils, which went 6-for-11 from 3-point land as a tram. Drozd and Kilpatrick paced Delaware Valley with six points apiece in the first stanza.
The Devils remained hot in the second half and led by as many as 27, 69-42, with 8:09 to play. The Aggies fought back with a 20-7 run over the next five minutes to cut the lead back to 14 at 76-62. Coll and Kilpatrick each hit a pair of three's during that stretch while Coll also had a layup for eight points in the run.
Delaware Valley found themselves down by 17 points again with 1:50 to play when Eireann Anastasi found Kilpatrick open from beyond the arc again to get the lead back under 15. After an Alyssa McDonough layup for the Devils, Drozd was fouled while driving the lane and connected on both of her free throws to make it 85-71 with 1:24 to play. One more layup from Drozd and a pair of free throws from FDU's Delisha Thompson accounted for the final points and kept the Aggies' chances of a third seed alive at the time.
Lively came off the bench to lead all scorers in the game with 25 points, including a 6-for-10 performance from deep. All-American Kyra Dayon registered 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the win.
Kilpatrick shined for the Aggies as she went a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point land and finished with 15 points. Anastasi recorded 16 points, six assists and three steals while Drozd dropped 13 points. Coll had 12 points in the game, leaving the junior just 18 points shy of the 1,000-point plateau.