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Women's Basketball - Mon, Feb. 27, 2017
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INDIANAPOLIS - Jessica Almeida dropped a game-high 20 points, converted the game-winning layup and came up with a game-saving block as the Marian women's basketball team defeated St. Francis 59-57 to win the Crossroads League Tournament championship Monday night on John Grimes Court in Indianapolis.

Things could not have started any better for Marian as the Knights led by 12 just three minutes into the game and scored seven unanswered points after the opening tip. However, the Knights cooled off and ended up shooting just 5-for-20 in the first quarter. The cold shooting allowed St. Francis to come storming back and the Cougars led 19-15 at the end of the quarter.

Little changed in the second quarter as both teams' shooting percentages dipped below 25 percent midway through the quarter. St. Francis was able to stretch its lead to as much as seven with 5:30 to play and maintained the advantage through the rest of the quarter. The Knights shot 9-for-33 from the field and were 2-for-12 from beyond the arc. St. Francis turned the ball over nine times compared to Marian's eight.

Though both teams continued to struggle shooting the ball in the second half, Marian was able to take a two-point lead at the end of the third quarter. With 1:29 to play in the third, Jessica Almeida finished a layup in traffic to take a one-point lead. She was fouled on the play and converted the free throw to give the Knights the lead.

The two teams went scoreless for the first 1:30 of the fourth quarter until St. Francis tied it up with a field goal from Kara Gerka. After trading the lead back and forth over the next six minutes, St. Francis pulled away and led 55-50 with a free throw from Gerka at the 2:34 mark. Joana Soeiro answered with a three-point play to trim the deficit to two, but Lauren McBryar hit a pair of free throws to put the Knights down four with 1:27 to play.

On the ensuing possession, Almeida found Jenna Sullivan inside for a layup that cut the deficit to two. After Soeiro stole the inbounds pass, Marian called a timeout and Sarah Corbin drilled a deep two to tie the game at 57 apiece with 49 seconds to play. St. Francis turned the ball over on the next possession and with 23 seconds to play Marian took over with the shot clock off.

Almeida dribbled the ball up top and made her move with 10 seconds to play. She was able to get into the lane, spun away from a double team and laid the ball off the glass with 3.6 seconds remaining. St. Francis called a timeout and advanced the ball to the frontcourt. 

Paige Frisch received the inbounds pass and took a dribble to the top of the key. She rose up to shoot a potential game-winning 3-pointer, but it was swatted away by Almeida and the Knights earned their second Crossroads League Tournament championship in the last three years.

Almeida led the way with 20 points, while Soeiro added 12 and Sullivan recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Knights shot 37 percent compared to USF's 32 percent and Marian forced 18 USF turnovers.

Marian also earned the automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa, which begins March 8. The Knights will find out their opponent March 1. Your online source for Marian Athletics, tickets, multimedia, Knight merchandise, photos and more. 

St. Francis (Ind.) 18-15191181957
Marian University 30-3158171959
Feb. 27, 2017
Marian University PE Center
Attendance: 879
St. Francis (Ind.)Indv. LeadersMarian University
#10 MCBRYAR, Lauren - 13Points #01 Jessica Almeida - 20
#10 MCBRYAR, Lauren - 9Rebounds #24 Jenna Sullivan - 10
#10 MCBRYAR, Lauren - 4Assists #11 Joana Soeiro - 4
St. Francis (Ind.)Team StatisticsMarian University
32.2% (19 - 59) Field Goals % 37.1% (23 - 62)
31.8% (7 - 22) 3 Point Field Goals % 16.7% (4 - 24)
75% (12 - 16) Free Throws 69.2% (9 - 13)
44Rebounds 39
9Assists 11
18Turnovers 12
62nd Chance Pts 2