BRADFORD, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford women's basketball team (4-1) handed previously undefeated Houghton College (3-1) its first loss of the season, defeating the Highlanders, 78-74, in a non-conference showdown Tuesday night in the KOA Arena.
"It was a great team win for us against a very good Houghton team," said Pitt-Bradford head coach Sean Brown Sr. "Everyone stepped up down the stretch and nobody panicked when we were down. We stayed the course and it paid off for us. I'm incredibly proud of how the girls fought tonight."
Ali Rinfrette was dominant all night, pouring in 28 points while adding nine rebounds, six assists and three steals. Kaserra Owns was terrific again as well, posting 16 points and adding five boards and five steals. Abby Brate added 12 points and team-high seven assists while Darien Lantz rounded out the Panther's in double figures with 11 points and eight assists. Ashley Fleming provided some much needed strength in the post, keeping the Houghton forwards in check in the second half.
"Ali and Kaserra really turned the game around for us by hitting some big shots that sparked a run when we were down eight in the fourth quarter," Brown Sr. said. "They have been consistent for us in some very big moments and tonight was no different. Also, Abby did a great job icing the game at the line."
Pitt-Bradford once again took advantage of its opponent's miscues, scoring 29 points off of Houghton's 25 turnovers in the victory.
"Our defense has been playing very well early on," Brown Sr. said. "We once again forced a ton of turnovers and we turned them into buckets on the other end, which is exactly what we need to do to be successful."
The lead changed hands 16 times with the Panthers leading by as many as seven with 2:53 left in the first half and the Highlanders leading by eight with just over eight minutes left in the game.
Rinfrette and Owens took over for the Panthers in the fourth quarter, scoring a combined 19 points in the game's final 10 minutes.
Owens sparked the big run with a mid-range jumper while Rinfrette buried a three and Owens added another to tie the game at 62-62 with 6:50 left. Fleming added two huge defensive rebounds, leading to both Panther buckets.
"Ashley had an outstanding game for us tonight," Brown Sr. said. "Their post players were tough and she did a great job of limiting their production in the second half."
Houghton answered right back with a layup on the other end to take a 64-62 lead, but Rinfrette responded with a long-range jumper, giving the Panthers the lead for good with 5:51 left.
Elle Reed connected from beyond the arc as time expired, but it was too little, too late, as the Panthers emerged with the 78-74 victory in their last game before Thanksgiving Recess.
The Pitt-Bradford women's basketball team gets right back at it Sunday afternoon at three against Lebanon Valley College in the KOA Arena.
"Lebanon Valley is always a tough team," Brown Sr. said. "We're going to need to compete and bring our game. It will be another great early season challenge for us."
*Photo by Erika Helo*