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Dollard sinks clutch free throws as QC women win

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For all but nine seconds Saturday at Fitzgerald Gymnasium, the Queens College women’s basketball team led in its New York Collegiate Athletic Conference game against Philadelphia University.

But on Adrienne Reese’s fifth three-pointer — her third in the final 1:17 — the Rams took their first lead of the game, 65-64, with 17.6 seconds left.

It was gut check time for Queens, a team that was again without its starting point guard Natasha Lyons, who was academically ineligible to play.

The Lady Knights answered the challenge as Theresa Dollard drained a pair of free throws with 8.9 seconds left and Philadelphia point guard Melissa Kelly missed an end-to-end driving layup with 1.3 seconds left as Queens celebrated an impressive 66-65 win.

Queens College coach Jerry Ingenito used one word to describe his team’s performance.

“Character,” he said.

And the Lady Knights showed plenty of it, especially in the second half.

Every time Philadelphia (13-9, 12-5) chipped away at the Queens lead, the Lady Knights answered with a big play. Queens (9-13, 8-10) saw its 12-point second half lead whittled down to just four with 5:50 left in the second half.

But Dollard, who struggled from the foul line in a 50-37 loss at C.W. Post a week earlier, netted a pair of free throws and Kerri Graham, who had a double-double (19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds), converted an old-fashioned three-point play to extend the Lady Knights’ lead to 54-45.

One of the most telling statistics and one of the best examples of the Lady Knights’ effort could be found in a remarkable 51-20 rebounding advantage.

“[Ingenito] says one of the most important stats is rebounds,” Graham said. “Tonight, Shonda [Holder], myself, Theresa [Williams] and Melani [Iseli] all had to contribute.”

The win, which avenged an 81-66 loss at Philadelphia Jan. 12, was truly a team effort. Sophomore Erin Dollard added 12 points, including 6-of-6 from the foul line, Holder had nine points and 11 rebounds and junior guard Lynda Day, who averages 1.7 points and 1.9 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game, had eight points, including a pair of big second half three pointers, and eight assists in 32 minutes.

“[Ingenito] says it’s all about us and it really is,” said Erin Dollard. “Its up to us if we want to do it or not. Today we did play strong. We wanted this game bad.”

While he gave the credit to his team, Ingenito also had a couple of big play calls late in the game.

After a Reese three tied the game for the first time since the opening tip-off, Ingenito called timeout to draw up a play. The result was a brilliantly designed touchdown pass from Theresa Dollard to a wide open Holder, who scored the layup to put Queens back in front, 64-62, with 35 seconds left.

With his team clinging to a one-point lead, the Rams had one last chance to win the game with 1.3 seconds left and an inbound underneath the Queens basket. But the Lady Knights forced the pass from the baseline out near midcourt and Reese couldn’t get off a shot in time.

“This win lets us know we can play with anyone,” Graham said. “Going into the playoffs, this gives us more confidence. Without those little breakdowns, or with less of them, we should be good to go.”

After hosting St. Thomas Aquinas Wednesday and playing at Mercy Saturday, Queens plays its last regular season home game Monday at 5 p.m. against Bridgeport. Theresa Dollard, Iseli and Cheryl Cosenzo will be honored before the game on Senior Night.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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