The Lady Royals Basketball team boldly began the Division III NCAA Tournament.
They followed their Landmark Conference championship win with two impressive wins Friday and Saturday at the John J. Long Center.
In a comeback attempt against The University of New England, the Lady Royals pulled off a last-second nail-biting 3-pointer to win the game 49-48. Sophomore Bridgette Mann sealed the deal with the clutch 3-point shot.
The Lady Royals’ next opponent was State University of New York Polytechnic Institute. The game was close the entire time, until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter when the Royals lead extended to the largest of the day. The Royals went on to win 76-65.
Mann, who hit the game winning shot against the University of New England never doubted the team would win and accredits that to its resilience. The win provided a morale boost to the Lady Royals.
“It definitely gives us some confidence knowing that we can still come out on top even when we’re trailing throughout the game,” Mann said.
Denise Rizzo, a senior member of the team, was confident but still was aware that her career could be coming to an end.
“I was not ready for my basketball career to be over yet. I knew we were meant to come back and win,” Rizzo said. “We wouldn’t have closed a deficit that big if we were not meant to win and advance. We fought too hard to lose.”
Rizzo learned from this weekend’s games the difficulty of winning in the tournament.
“I relearned that the NCAA Tournament has the best teams playing in it for a reason,” Rizzo said. “No opponent is an easy one, and you cannot take any plays off because that could be the game.
“It’s essential to play a full 40 minutes as hard as you can.”
Both players are excited to have a chance at redemption against Tufts in the third round of the tournament. Tufts eliminated the Lady Royals last year from the tournament during the Elite 8.
This year, Rizzo is determined for revenge.
“I know that our team feels the same way and I know that we are ready to end their season, like they ended ours last March,” Rizzo said.
Mann displayed the same demeanor.
“They are a great team but I think come Friday, we’re going to be ready to give them our best shot,” Mann said.