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For Monmouth Postgame Press ConferenceLoretto, PA
- Saint Francis (PA) added another piece to its overcrowded trophy case on Sunday afternoon. The top-seeded Red Flash defeated No. 2 Monmouth, 72-57, in the 2011 Northeast Conference Women's Basketball Championship Game presented by Ruby Tuesday.
Tournament MVP Brittany Lilley (Severna Park, MD/Severna Park) and NEC Player of the Year Samantha Leach (Mount Sterling, OH/Miami Trace) scored 19 points apiece for the repeat champion Red Flash.
The win gives Saint Francis (PA) a return trip to the NCAA Tournament and the program's 11th conference crown. No other NEC program has won more than four titles in the league's 25-year history.
Meanwhile, Monmouth, which won the NEC's inaugural tournament title back in 1987, was contesting its sixth NEC Championship Game, but first under Stephanie V. Gaitley. The Hawks, who are in their third season with Gaitley at the helm, start a trio of sophomores making their national television debuts on ESPNU.
Center Abby Martin (Maplewood, NJ/Columbia) is one of those second-year Hawks, but looked more like a grizzled veteran during the postseason. Martin finished with 19 points and eight rebounds on her way to a spot on the All-Tournament. The New Jersey native averaged 19.7 points and 8.7 rebounds over the three-game sample.
Playing a near-perfect game at point guard, Lilley became only the 10th woman in NEC Tournament history to record 10 assists in a single game. The second team all-NEC selection, who moved from the wing to the point this past offseason, keyed a late first-half run that gave the hosts a 12-point edge at the break.
The Red Flash shot 50 percent from the field during the first half, ending on a 7-0 spurt to take a 36-24 lead.
Lilley assisted on all three field goals – two layups by Shene Fleming sandwiched around a three-pointer by Leach -- during the surge.
Monmouth opened the second half with a bounce in its step, outscoring the Flash 12-4 over the first 5:16. Sophomore Alysha Womack (Springfield, PA/O'Hara) hit a consecutive three-pointers to bring the Hawks within four.
Saint Francis (PA), however, would not let Monmouth get any closer. The Flash held the Hawks without a field goal for the next eight minutes until Martin ended the drought with a layup that made the score 56-39 with 6:46 remaining.
, and Martin
earned spots on the NEC's five-member All-Tournament team, joining Central Connecticut's Justina Udenze (Hamden, CT/Hamden)
and Robert Morris' Yohanna Morton (Santo Domingo, DR)
2011 NEC All-Tournament Team
Brittany Lilley (Jr., PG), SFPA - Tournament MVP
Samantha Leach (Sr., G), SFPA
Abby Martin (So. F), MON
Justina Udenze (Sr., F), CCSU
Yohanna Morton (Sr. PG), RMU
2011 Northeast Conference
Women's Basketball Tournament
Presented by Ruby Tuesday
All games played at home of higher seed
Teams reseeded following quarterfinals
Click Here For Tournament Bracket (PDF)
Click Here For Media Credential Form (PDF)
Click Here For Media Teleconference Soundbites
Click Here For All-Conference Release
Click Here For "This Date In NEC Tournament History" Feature
Click Here For Quarterfinal Round Media Notes (PDF)
Click Here For Championship Round Media Notes (PDF)