Tirone did just that, scoring a season-high 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting to go along with three assists in 38 minutes to help lead the Lady Knights to a 65-51 win over the Purple Knights at Harvey Hubbell Gymnasium.
"I knew I had to pick up for the starters who were missing," Tirone said about her first start of the year. "I'm a junior already and I wanted to pick up where [injured starter Jill Kraft] left off. I wanted to try my best."
Dollard, an Elmhurst native out of Grover Cleveland High School, had 12 points and six assists in 40 minutes, while Elena Rakova posted her fifth consecutive double-double, with a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 3:34 left in the game.
The undermanned Lady Knights, who were also missing point guard Anica Gant and just returned April Gross, head into the holiday break with a 3-4 record, but more importantly, a 3-1 mark in the New York Collegiate Athletic League.
"We've had a tough road, a lot of injuries and a lot of question marks," said Queens College head coach Jerry Ingenito. "We may not have played the elite in the league, but no matter how you look at it, we're 3-1. And now we're going to start getting players back."
Queens jumped all over Bridgeport (1-6, 1-3) from the opening tip and ran out to a comfortable 37-20 lead, thanks to 15 points by Rakova and 11 from Dollard.
The Lady Knights extended their lead to 19, 47-28, midway through the second half before Bridgeport crept their way back in the game. The Lady Purple Knights went on a 10-0 run, capped by a steal and layup by Rebecca Hicks to cut the Queens lead to 47-38 with 9:23 left in the second half.
Bridgeport got as close as eight, 49-41, with 8:43 remaining when Christal Murphy (24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) drove to the hole and was fouled by Rakova. The made free throw cut Queens lead to 49-41 with 8:43 left.
But then the Lady Knights went back to the formula that was so successful early in the game - getting the ball inside to Rakova. The 6-foot-2 senior scored from the left blocks to put Queens back ahead by 10, 51-41.
Tirone then scored on a layup after a Dollard steal. Rakova scored on a turnaround jumper in the lane and Gross knocked in a deuce from the left blocks as the Lady Knights went back ahead, 57-42, with 4:36 left.
"Antonette played a lot of minutes tonight,. She's been a good player off the bench," Ingenito said. "She's been forced to play a lot more and she stepped up."
The Lady Knights return to action Dec. 29, against the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown at Fitzgerald Gymnasium at 5 p.m.
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