Second Half Rally Sends Hilbert Past Panthers In AMCC Opener

Photo by Erika Helo
Photo by Erika Helo

BRADFORD, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford women's basketball team fell to the Hilbert Hawks, 68-64, as a strong second half from the Hawks gave them the late advantage.

"We had great effort tonight," Head Coach Sharay Hall said. "However, we lacked energy down the stretch, and that cost us."

Ali Rinfrette led the way for the Panthers with 18 points, while Shirleah Ragin was close behind with 16. Aria Alston-Smith also scored 12 points as the third Panther with a double-figure scoring total. 

The two teams began the game at a stalemate, with neither team connecting on a field goal until three minutes into the start of the game. 

A jumper late in the first quarter from Ragin gave the Panthers an 11-8 advantage, but a three-pointer for Hilbert in the final minute of the quarter sent the Hawks into the second quarter ahead, 12-11. 

Later down 18-15 early in the second quarter, the Panthers went on a 7-2 run capped by an Alston-Smith three-ball to take a 22-20 advantage at the 5:31 mark.

Both teams struggled to find offense the rest of the half, but another three-pointer from Alston-Smith at the 1:59 mark followed by a Shaelyn Snipes layup a minute later put the Panthers up five, 27-22, with under a minute to play in the half. 

As the final seconds ticked down, Snipes fired from long range at the top of the key and missed wide. But Alston-Smith was there to clean up the board and lay it back in as the backboard illuminated, sending Pitt-Bradford into the locker room ahead, 29-22. 

Into the second half, the Panthers took an 11-point advantage on a Rinfrette bucket a minute-and-a-half into the start of the third quarter. 

But Hilbert slowly chipped away, bringing the deficit down to just one point with three minutes left in the quarter, before ultimately taking the lead at the 2:52 mark.

Pitt-Bradford tied the game again in the third quarter on two separate occasions on a bucket from Brittany Button and a free throw from Jennifer Isenberg, and the two teams took a 42-42 deadlocked score into the fourth.

Back-and-forth, the lead continued to change hands until Ragin caught fire, connecting from long range on back-to-back possessions to give the Panthers a 58-54 lead.

But two more buckets gave Hilbert a 61-58 lead with just over two minutes to go in regulation.

Free throws down the stretch helped Hilbert maintain the lead, but a three-pointer from Rinfrette with five seconds remaining cut the deficit to just one point, 65-64. 

Hilbert eventually iced the game with free throws and took the 68-64 win. 

Anna Colebert led the way for the Panthers with seven rebounds while also dishing five assists. Rinfrette matched with five assists of her own.

Ragin, Rinfrette and Colebert all blocked a pair of shots apiece.

Pitt-Bradford will be in action next on Saturday as La Roche comes to the KOA Arena for the second-straight come conference contest.