Pioneers Take Home ECAC Basketball Title

Courtesy of:

Jeff Lombardi Jr., Sports Editor

WAYNE, N.J.- On the heels of their first round exit in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament, the William Paterson University Women’s basketball team rattled off four straight victories, matching their season high, to secure an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship on the hardwood of the Henry Memorial Center in Washingtonian, Pa on Mar. 4.  The ECAC tournament win was the second in program history and first in 28 seasons.

The third seeded (pod 1) Pioneers opened ECAC tournament play with a thrilling double-overtime, 90-80 victory over second seeded (pod 1), Hunter College on Feb. 28, before taking down top seeded (pod 1), Washington and Jefferson College by a 81-80 count in the quarter-final round on Mar. 2.

In the semi-final game, on Mar. 3, WPU knocked off another number one seed (pod 4), Springfield College, 69-63, to advance to  the ECAC championship game.

Facing their third straight top seeded opponent, NYU (pod 3), the Pioneers overcame their fourth consecutive second half deficit en route to a 52-48 win.

After falling behind 17-2 in the game’s opening minutes and trailing 27-23 at halftime, the Pioneers comeback was fueled by senior forward, Tori Woetzel and junior guard, Julie Rovito. The pair put up identical stat lines in both points with 17 and rebounds with four, while Woetzel added three blocks and a pair of assists and Rovito dished out three assists. WPU outscored NYU 29-21 over the final two quarters.

Woetzel, who scored 11 of her 17 points in the second half, which included the game tying bucket with 1:56 remaining, was named tournament MVP after averaging 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.0 blocks over the four contests. Rovito joined Woetzel on the All-tournament team, averaging a team high 19.3 points per game.