GENESEO, N.Y. - SUNY Geneseo sophomore forward McKenna Brooks scored 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots as the Knights erased a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat Muhlenberg College, 65-53, in the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament First Round, hosted by Geneseo, on Friday night.
Brooks netted 10 of her 16 points in the second half while finishing the game 10-for-11 from the foul line. Senior guard Katie Durand scored 14 points senior guard Kara Houppert tallied 12 points and dished out a team-high five assists. The Knights shot 8-for-31 (25.8%) from the floor in the first half but went 15-for-29 (51.7%) in the second to erase a 32-23 halftime deficit.
The Knights (27-1) advance to the second round to take on Rochester at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday at Schrader Gym. Rochester junior forward Alexandra Leslie scored 16 points to lead the YellowJackets to a 70-55 win over Keene State earlier in the evening.
Geneseo played evenly with Muhlenberg over the first 4:40 and took an 8-7 lead on a Brooks foul shot with 4:29 on the clock. The Mules sparked a 7-2 run to take a 14-9 lead with 1:57 to go, but the Knights finished the quarter with back-to-back buckets to trail, 14-13, after the frame.
Muhlenberg began the second quarter with consecutive three-pointers to open up a 20-13 lead, but Knights' first-year guard Sara Ciotti answered with a three to make it 20-16 with 7:57 remaining. The visitors finished the quarter on a 12-7 run to carry a nine-point lead into the halftime break - the largest Geneseo faced this season.
Durand and Brooks each netted eight points in the third quarter as the Knights outscored the visitors, 25-15, in the frame. The hosts trailed 37-29 with 6:18 remaining in the period but finished the quarter on a 19-10 run. Brooks sank a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining to put Geneseo ahead 48-47 heading into the fourth quarter.
Houppert drove the lane and scored on the Knights' first possession, and Brooks hit a pair of free throws to give the hosts a 52-47 lead with 8:52 to play. Muhlenberg responded with six straight points to regain a one-point lead at the 5:16 mark but were held scoreless the rest of the way as the Knights finished the game on a 13-0 run. Eight straight points, including back-to-back three-pointers, from sophomore guard Kelsey Poplawski sealed the victory, as the Knights earned their third-straight appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Geneseo tied the program mark for wins in a season, tying the 1992-93 squad that finished the season with a 27-1 record en route to a National Quarterfinal berth. The Knights also improved to 6-0 in NCAA Tournament First Round home games and are now 10-2 in NCAA Tournament games played at home.