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No. 19 University of the Sciences Holds Off Jefferson for Second Straight CACC Championship

(Thomas, USciences)

PHILADELPHIA – The No. 19 University of the Sciences women's basketball team won its second consecutive Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championship, and fourth in program history, defeating host Jefferson 64-56 on Sunday afternoon at the Gallagher Center.

USciences becomes the first team to repeat at CACC champions since Holy Family in 2012-13 and in the process, the Devils (28-3) set a new program record for victories in a single season, surpassing last year's 27.

Receiving the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, University of the Sciences will learn its East Region destination and matchup during tonight's 10 p.m. Selection Show, broadcasted on NCAA.com.

Trailing 22-11 with 6:11 remaining in the second quarter, University of the Sciences entered the half on an 18-6 surge to take a 29-28 advantage.

The Devils then opened the third quarter with the first eight points on Alex Thomas (St Elizabeths) and Sarah Abbonizio 3-pointers, with a Jordan Vitelli basket sandwiched in between.

After two Jefferson free throws, Thomas made yet another 3-pointer with 6:29 showing to complete a 29-7 run over 9:42 of game-time, giving USciences an 11-point lead of its own. 

The Rams got as close as five in the third quarter with the next six points, but USciences maintained its distance and Ye made a crucial buzzer-beating layup off an inbounds pass to send the game into the fourth with the Devils leading 53-43.

Laura Trisch then hit a 3-pointer 11 seconds into the fourth quarter for the game's largest lead, 56-43, and University of the Sciences went ahead double-digits again when an Abbonizio layup made the score 58-48 with 6:20 to play.

USciences went cold from there though, not scoring for over five and a half minutes to allow Jefferson to get back within four.

The Rams could never make it a single-possession game though, and the Devils made all six of its free throw attempts in the final 49 seconds to close out the game.

Thomas made two of those foul shots, closing out a performance in which the junior scored a team-high 17 points en route to Tournament MVP honors. She made all six of her free throw attempts, was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, and added four assists and three rebounds.

In the process, she also moved into ninth in program history with 1,280 career points, as well as into a tie for seventh in the single-season annals with 61 3-pointers.

Joining her on the All-Tournament Team was Vitelli and Ye, who added 14 and 11 points in 26 and 23 minutes, respectively.

Vitelli made all four of her free throw attempts and hit two 3-pointers, while contributing two steals and two rebounds.

Ye shot 4-of-6 from the field and pulled down five rebounds.

Abbonizio was also in double-figures with 16 points, making 5-of-6 free throws and adding four rebounds, a steal and a block.

The senior also moved her way up the program's all-time scoring list, into 11th with 1,242 career points.

Trisch's 3-pointer was the 127th of her career, breaking a tie for ninth in program history. Additionally, she pulled down a team-best six boards and blocked a game-high two shots.

Notably, Colleen Walsh also made a 3-pointer to break a tie for fifth all-time with 162 for her career, one behind both Thomas and Abbonizio.

The senior also set a new career-best with a game-high seven assists.

The 3-point shot turned out to be the difference in the game, as USciences made just one more field goal (19-18) and free throw (17-16) than Jefferson. However, the Devils made five more trifectas, 9-4, than the Rams.

Trailing 14-9 after the first quarter, Vitelli opened the second with a basket, but Jefferson made consecutive 3-pointers as part of eight unanswered for its 11-point advantage.  

University of the Sciences began its push with a Ye triple and after an Abbonizio free throw, two Vitelli 3-pointers sandwiched another Ye basket to cap a 14-1 run just 3:12 later for the Devils' second lead.

Jefferson came back with the next four points to retake the lead, but an Abbonizio layup and two Vitelli free throws put USciences on top heading into the half, despite a Rams foul shot with just 0.6 seconds showing making the score 29-28. 

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