Garden City, N.Y. – A put-back from graduate student Kamala Thompson (Selden, N.Y.) at the buzzer lifted the fifth-seeded Molloy Lions over the top-seeded Adelphi Panthers, 59-58, in the NCAA East Regional Semifinals. The win, the first NCAA Semifinal victory in program history, improved the Lions to a record-setting 24-8 record on the season.
Senior Aliyah McDonald (Hempstead, N.Y.) scored a team-high 14 points. Sophomore McKayla Hernandez (Windermere. Fla.) netted 12 points, and Thompson recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Senior Sierra Clark (Hughesville, Md.) tallied a game-high 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Adelphi.
Adelphi (27-5) opened to an early 2-0 edge before graduate student Symone Kelly (Wyandanch, N.Y.) tied the score at two with a jumper. With the score 4-2, Hernandez and sophomore Ihnacinse Grady (Amityville, N.Y.) hit back to back three-pointers to put Molloy ahead 8-4. McDonald extended the lead to 12-6 after she created a steal and laid the ball up on the other end. McDonald, who scored a team-high six points in the first quarter, hit a pair of foul shots with 10.9 seconds left to give the maroon and white an 18-10 advantage at the end of the first stanza.
The Lions took a 10-point lead, 22-12, after Thompson scored in transition early in the second quarter. The Panthers responded with a 10-2 run, led by seven points from sophomore Niajah Morgan (Bronx, N.Y.), to cut the lead to 24-22. Molloy bounced back with a 9-2 run, led by four points from McDonald and three points from Hernandez, to go up 33-24. Thompson hit a layup as the half expired to give the Lions a 35-26 lead at the break.
Adelphi scored five of the first seven points of the third quarter to cut the Molloy lead to 37-31. Hernandez hit a pair of fouls shots to bring the Lions' lead to 39-31. With the score 41-33, Clark hit a triple to cut the lead to 41-36. Graduate student Jessica Kalbfleisch (Ridge, N.Y.) and McDonald scored consecutive baskets to put the maroon and white ahead 45-36. Clark made two free throws late in the quarter to cut the Molloy lead to 45-38 at the end of three.
The Panthers scored the first five points of the quarter to trim the lead to 45-43. Hernandez answered with a basket to bring the advantage to 47-43. Grady hit a jumper to extend the lead to 49-44. Adelphi scored four straight points to cut the lead to one, 49-48. A basket from Thompson brought the lead to 51-48 with five minutes to play. The Panthers took a 54-51 lead on back to back three-pointers from senior Calli Balfour (Hopewell Junction, N.Y.). Grady made a pair from the foul line to cut the host's lead to 56-55. Kelly, who scored 10 points, made a layup with 30.6 seconds left to put the Lions up 57-56. Clark put the Panthers back ahead, 58-57, with a basket with 11.8 remaining setting up Thompson's heroics. Thompson inbounded to ball to McDonald, who threw up a shot that hit the rim. The graduate student was waiting under the rim, grabbed the rebound, and threw a shot through the net as the buzzer sounded to send Molloy to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Lions will play ECC foe and second-seeded Queens College in the East Regional Final Monday evening at Adelphi University. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Provided by the Molloy Sports Information Department.