West Long Branch, NJ- Junior forward Aileen Daniels (Waldwick, NJ) led the Bears with 15 points while four others scored in double figures to earn Brown a 75-71 victory over host Monmouth on Thursday afternoon. The win improves Brown to 4-7 on the year, while the Hawks drop to 8-3. Brown will now play the winner of the 4 p.m. game featuring American or Binghamton in the championship game at 2 p.m. tomorrow.
With 56-percent shooting from the floor, the Bears gained its first lead, 16-14, of the afternoon 10 minutes into the first half. Brown then went on a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to take a 26-16 advantage, but the Hawks chipped away at its 10-point deficit by scoring the next seven points of the game to come within three with 2:20 left in the first half.
Junior guard Hannah Passafuime (Soquel, CA) led the offense with eight points on four-for-four shooting from the floor, while both Daniels and freshman Sophie Beutel (Toronto, ON) chipped in with six to head into halftime with a 30-27 lead. Alysha Womack led the Monmouth attack with 13 points, while Abby Martin added eight for the Hawks in the first 20 minutes.
The Bears jumped out to a 48-31 lead after an 18-4 run in the first four minutes of the second half, but Monmouth was able to chip away at its deficit with eight points by Abby Martin and two treys from both Alysha Womack and Gabby Singer to come within eight, 56-48, with 9:31 left in the game.
Both teams battled over the next three minutes as the Bears held just a 63-59 lead with 5:33 left on the clock. Sophomore Lindsay Nickel (Los Altos, CA) hit a big three for the Bears at the 4:34 mark, and freshman Lauren Clarke (Colts Neck, NJ) sank two free throws to give Brown a 68-59 lead with 3:46 on the clock. Alexis Canady went the length of the floor and put in a layup, and followed with a jumper in the paint plus the free throw on the foul to bring Monmouth within four with 2:30 remaining in the game.
Clarke hit two free throws for the Bears, but Adriana Allen hit a jumper in the paint to stay within four. Womack then came down and hit a trey for the Hawks with 1:35 on the clock, but Passafuime hit two free throws to extend Brown's lead to three with under a minute to go.
A free throw by Nickel with 11 seconds left in the game gave Bruno a four-point lead, and it was enough for the Bears to secure the win, 75-71.
Daniels led the way for Brown with 15 points, while Passafuime chipped in with 14. Nickel and Clarke each added 11 points while Dixon netted 10 as the Bears finished shooting 51 percent from the field.
Leading Monmouth was Alysha Womack with 21 points, as Alexis Canady and Abby Martin added 18 points apiece.