BROOKLINE, Mass. - Hawks sophomore Cassidy Harrison (Foxborough, Mass.) scored a game-high 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including nine points in the fourth quarter, leading the Becker College Hawks to a comeback win over the Newbury Nighthawks, 60-50, in the New England Collegiate Conference Championship Game on Saturday afternoon at Pappas Gymnasium, securing the Hawks first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008.
Harrison's 23-point performance in the Championship game, matched with her 23-point outing at Mitchell in the NECC Semifinals resulted in her being named the NECC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Harrison added five steals and four rebounds in 32 minutes. Junior Ciara McKissick (Charlton, Mass.), who was limited to just 13 games this season, finished with 16 points and eight rebounds in a full 40 minutes. Junior Adrianna Dowdy (East Haven, Conn.) finished with a playoff career-high 16 rebounds. McKissick joined Harrison as a member of the All-Tournament Team.
Nighthawks junior Savannah Olsen (Battle Creek, Mich.) finished with a team-high 17 points and game-high 21 rebounds in 38 minutes. Freshman Jaymesha Sanders (West Haven, Conn.) concluded her excellent freshman campaign with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Tatianna Occena (Spring Valley, N.Y.) added 12 points. Olsen and Sanders were nominated to the All-Tournament Team for their effort.
Trailing by as many as nine in the third quarter, Becker fought out of the hole with a 10-2 run in the final 6:37 to trail by one, 38-37, heading for the fourth.
Midway through the fourth, Harrison and Olsen traded banked-in three-pointers to a 47-47 tie. Becker would take the lead, 52-47, with a pair of foul shots by Harrison and a three-pointer by Hawks freshman Jazlyn Contreras (Pawtucket, R.I.).
The Nighthawks would get within two as the Championship Game came down to the final 1:44 with Becker leading 52-50.
Becker, the NECC's best scoring defense, would sink their teeth in, holding the Nighthawks to 0-for-7 shooting in the final 1:44. Becker shot 8-for-12 at the line in the final moments, ending the game on an 8-0 run.
As was in Newbury's Semifinal win over Elms College, offense was hard to come by in the first half for both teams as they combined to shoot 19-for-57 in the first half.
In both regular-season meetings, Newbury and Becker entered the fourth quarter of their games within a possession of each other with the Nighthawks scoring big in the fourth to win the first two games. Today, Becker's fourth quarter edge of 23-12 led them to the NECC Title. The Hawks shot 5-for-11 from the field and 11-for-16 from the line in the final quarter.
The win moves the Hawks to 18-10 while the loss ends the Nighthawks season at 18-9, the best record for the Nighthawks since 2000.
Becker awaits Selection Monday, where the full-field of 64 teams will be announced for the NCAA Divison III Women's Basketball Tournament. Coverage starts on Feb. 26 at 2:30 p.m., exclusively on NCAA.com.
2018 NECC All-Tournament Team
Elms College - Mackenzie LaRochelle (Sr.)
Mitchell College - Francesca Pinard (Jr.)
Newbury College - Jaymesha Sanders (Fr.)
Newbury College - Savannah Olsen (Jr.)
Becker College - Ciara McKissick (Jr.)
Becker College - Tournament MVP Cassidy Harrison (So.)