Wells College Express Capture First NEAC Women’s Basketball Title with 67-60 Victory over Lancaster Bible College

The Wells College Express won their first-ever NEAC Women's Basketball Championship after defeating the Lancaster Bible College Chargers 67-60 Sunday.
The Wells College Express won their first-ever NEAC Women's Basketball Championship after defeating the Lancaster Bible College Chargers 67-60 Sunday.

LANCASTER, Pa. – The Wells College Express captured their first North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Women’s Basketball Championship in program history after defeating the defending-champion Lancaster Bible College Chargers 67-60 Sunday.

The Express will now receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, which will mark their first-ever appearance in the big dance.  They will learn their first-round opponent during the NCAA selection show Monday at 2:30 p.m., which can be viewed live here.

The Express, who entered the tournament as the No. 1 North Division seed after capturing their first divisional regular season title, handed the Chargers their first loss to a NEAC team of the season after they won their second straight NEAC South Division regular season title with a perfect 15-0 record. It seemed as if Lancaster Bible was going to continue that streak early on, as the Chargers built a 20-4 lead in the opening seven minutes of play.  The Express would respond, however, using a 12-5 run over the next six minutes to cut their deficit to nine at 25-16, and would continue to chip away at the lead until it was a one-possession game at 32-29 with two minutes left before halftime.  Four straight points by sophomore Katy Stover (Fredericksburg, Va.) sandwiched in between a Wells bucket to close the half gave the Chargers a 36-31 lead at intermission.

 A 10-4 Express run to open the second half gave them a 41-40 lead and their first since the game’s opening basket, but four straight points by the Chargers put them back up three, 44-41, at the 14:11 mark. They would maintain a slim advantage over the next seven minutes before both teams exchanged the lead on consecutive possessions to make it 54-52 in favor of the Express with six minutes to play. Wells would never trail again from there, matching every Charger basket with their own to hang on for the victory.

Express senior Ashley Roser (Taberg, N.Y.), the NEAC Player of the Year, continued her remarkable season by being named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after a pair of dominant performances.  After leading all players with 25 points and 11 rebounds in yesterday’s semifinal win over Gallaudet University, Roser finished the title game with a team-best 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor to go along with game highs of 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocks.  Her double-double also marked the 82nd such effort of her career and now leaves her just one shy of the NCAA Division III all-time record as she heads to national tournament.

Senior Kristen Ryan (Syracuse, N.Y.) added 12 points for Wells, who shot 50 percent from the field as a team in addition to 43 percent from 3-point land and a clutch 92 percent (12-of-13) from the free throw line.  Junior Jessilyn Artaho-Aki (Kapa'a, Hawaii) posted 15 points, three assists and three steals, while sophomore Lindsay Achzet (Johnstown, N.Y.) had 11 points and five rebounds.

Sophomore Aubrey Folger (South Berwick, Maine) finished with a game-high 24 points and a team-most eight rebounds for the Chargers, while Stover finished with 19 points and five rebounds. Junior Sarah Heilenman (Williamsport, Pa.) registered 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals for Lancaster Bible.

A full box score can be found here.

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference has twelve NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania State University - Abington, Pennsylvania State University - Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Institute of Technology, SUNY Morrisville State College, Wells College, and Wilson College.  Bryn Athyn College and Pennsylvania College of the Technology will both join the conference as full members in 2014-15.  Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Penn State Altoona (M Volleyball) and Rutgers University - Camden (M Golf & M Tennis).  The North Eastern Athletic Conference has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of men’s and women’s tennis.