Griffins to Host #5 Knights in Opening Round of AEC Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament


GMercyU Athletics

With completion of Saturday’s (Feb. 19) contests, league commissioner Jessica Huntley has officially announced the field for the 2021-2022 Atlantic East Conference (AEC) Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament. An 11-1 conference record earned Marymount University the top seed and a first round bye, while the remaining six teams align for Opening Round competition on Monday, February 21. As the #4 seed, Gwynedd Mercy University will host #5 Neumann University for a 6:00 p.m. quarterfinal tip-off. Likewise, #2 Immaculata University will host #7 Centenary University and #3 Cabrini University will host #6 Marywood University.

Gwynedd Mercy University (13-12, 7-5) and Neumann University (9-16, 4-8) first met at the Griffin Complex on January 12. The Griffins scored the first nine points, 9-0 (7:41), of the contest and relinquished the lead to the Knights for only a couple minutes at the end of the first quarter, 19-17 (2:00), before a buzzer-beating three pointer from sophomore guard Ava Casale (Sewell, N.J.) triggered the Griffins offense for a game-defining second frame. There, Casale continued to lead Gwynedd Mercy University until junior forward Haley Crossley (Warminster, Pa.) and the rest of the Griffins supported for a 29-19 second-quarter spread the granted them an immediate 53-40 (0:09) halftime advantage and an eventual 15-point conference win; 95-80.

The Griffins hit 11-of-18 (.611) from the field in the pivotal second quarter and forced 28 Knight turnovers to overcome a 38-29 rebounding deficiency. Crossley recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 25 points and a dozen (12) rebounds in excess of two blocks and five steals. But, sophomore guard Lynzie Eggers (Turnersville, N.J.) led the Griffins in scoring with a career-high 32 points. Eggers made three (3-of-8, .375) of her nine (9-of-20, .450) field goals from long range and made 11-of-13 from the free throw line while grabbing six rebounds, handing out two assists, and making a team-high six steals. Casale finished with 15 significant points while also providing two rebounds and a steal. Junior guard Elise Sylvester (Pottstown, Pa.) was steady at point with seven points, six rebounds, and eight assists.

In the grudge match, Gwynedd Mercy University used a 34-point fourth quarter to defeat Neumann University a second time. The Griffins trailed 27-25 (1:38) after a low-scoring first half. In the second half, the Griffins’ were reenergized by the perimeter shooting of Crossley (3-of-4, .750), Eggers (2-of-4, .500) and junior guard Kelly Owens (Schwenksville, Pa.)  (4-of-8, .500). The trio combined to hit 9-of-16 (.562) from three-point territory and scored 48 of their 61 points in the latter frames. Eggers reaped the fringe benefits of Griffins’ three-point shooting, finding her way to the free throw line for an 11-of-12 (.917) shooting performance that guaranteed the Gwynedd Mercy University victory.

Crossley scored her 10th double-double of the season with 19 points and 18 rebounds, but once again Eggers led all scorers with 22 points. Crossley added three assists, two blocks, and five steals to her double-double, while Eggers complimented her double figures with eight rebounds, a block, and a steal. Owens contributed 20 points, two rebounds, and an assist, while Sylvester supported with three points, two rebounds, nine assists, and four steals.

Gwynedd Mercy University finished their regular season schedule with a 4-2 February that included wins over the Knights, Cabrini University (W, 67-53 on Feb. 5), Centenary University (W, 80-61 on Feb. 7), and Marywood University (W, 60-54 on Feb. 16). Eggers leads the Griffins in scoring with 16.3 points per game (PPG), while Crossley has been equally impressive with 15.8 PPG and 11.0 rebounds per game (RPG); the duo has combined to win five AEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week awards. Sylvester has been brilliant at the point with the Nation’s second-highest assist total (156) and 10.8 PPG. Owens is the fourth Griffin scoring in double figures with an even 10.0 PPG.