By Greg Chandler
ADA, Ohio - A valiant fourth-quarter rally by the Hope College women's basketball team fell just short Friday night as the Flying Dutch lost to Christopher Newport (Va.) University, 79-74, in an NCAA Division III sectional semifinal at Ohio Northern University.
With the loss, Hope ended its season with a 24-5 record.
The loss marked the final Hope game for six seniors - Tyra Smith, Mandy Traversa, Angelique Gaddy, Paris Madison, Allison Hedrick, and Elizabeth Perkins. This year's senior class posted a record of 103-13, including 59-5 in MIAA play.
"I'm sad it's over. That was a tough one to lose," Traversa said. "But I'm just happy with all the experiences and memories I've made."
Christopher Newport, now 28-2, will face sectional host Ohio Northern, a 72-55 winner over SUNY-Geneseo, Saturday night for the sectional championship and a berth in next weekend's national semifinals at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.
"I thought we were good enough to make a run to the Final Four, or otherwise we wouldn't have gotten on the bus and driven down here this weekend," Hope coach Brian Morehouse said. "I still think we're a really good team. We played a bad quarter tonight, and you can't play a bad quarter in the NCAA tournament and advance. It just doesn't happen."
That "bad quarter" for Hope was the third quarter. After Hope led 44-37 three minutes into the quarter, Christopher Newport's pressure defense started to take its toll on the Flying Dutch.
The Captains, who came into the game fourth among Division III teams in creating turnovers on defense, forced 10 Hope miscues in the final seven minutes of the quarter, turning most of those turnovers into points as Christopher Newport outscored Hope 26-6 to take a 63-50 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Morehouse called the third quarter the key to the contest. "I thought the game got a little frenzied at that point. We just didn't get good offensive looks, and they shot a really high percentage that quarter to get to 32 (points for the quarter)," he said.
Hope outscored the Captains 19-6 to pull to into within one at 72-71 on a 3-pointer by Smith with 1:57 remaining. Six different players scored for Hope during that run.
"I thought our kids played with tremendous resiliency," Morehouse said. "We could have quit. We were down 13 to start the fourth quarter, and we said, '13 points, 10 minutes, no problem. We've got this.'"
Christopher Newport's Bailey Dufrene banked in a 3-point shot 19 seconds later to make it 75-71. A basket and free throw by Smith pulled Hope within one at 75-74, and the Flying Dutch had an opportunity to gain the lead moments later after sophomore Victoria Swift rebounded a CNU miss.
However, Hope missed a layup attempt, and the Captains sank four free throws in the final 14 seconds to seal the win.
"The fact that we made it a game in that fourth quarter feels good, and it feels good that we did it as a unit," Gaddy said.
Hope took the lead at 14-10 midway through the first quarter by back-to-back 3-pointers by Traversa and Swift, and would hold the lead until the third quarter. A 12-2 run in the second quarter, capped off by Swift's jumper, gave the Flying Dutch their biggest lead at 30-19 with 5:16 remaining in the first half.
However, Christopher Newport started to warm up from outside, hitting three 3-point shots to cut the Hope lead to 35-31 before Smith's layup gave the Flying Dutch a 37-31 lead at the half.
Hope shot 41 percent from the field (24 of 58), but Christopher Newport outrebounded the Flying Dutch 47-37, including 16 offensive rebounds to Hope's seven.
Smith led Hope with 17 points, while Buchanan added 12 despite playing only 17 minutes because of foul trouble.
"I thought Tyra Smith played a great game. She played unbelievable as a senior. She knocked down big shots, she played tremendous defense that sparked everybody else," Morehouse said.
Traversa added 11 points, including three 3-pointers to give her 196 career triples, ranking third on the Hope career list behind current Hope assistant Brittany Berry (229, 2011-15) and Jordyn Boles (218, 2004-08).
Sam Porter led four Christopher Newport players in double figures with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Devon Byrd added 14 points and 13 boards.