PHILADELPHIA – Despite a career-high 26 points from Sarah Abbonizio, the No. 11 University of the Sciences women's basketball team's season-opening seven-game win streak came to an end with a 72-65 loss to Chesnut Hill in Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) action on Saturday afternoon at Bobby Morgan Arena.
Having trailed for all but 42 seconds since the beginning of the second quarter and 46-42 entering the fourth, Abbonizio opened the final period with the first seven points in 1:36 to put USciences on top, 49-46, for just the second time in the second half.
After over two minutes of scoreless play, Chestnut Hill hit a 3-pointer to tie the score before making a basket to re-take the lead, 51-49, with 5:33 remaining.
Alex Thomas made two free throw to momentarily tie the score once more, but once again the Griffins came back with a basket and they would lead the remainder of the contest.
University of the Sciences (7-1, 2-1 CACC South) got as close as one, 54-55, when Jordan Vitelli converted a 3-point play with 2:51 to play and despite the lead growing to as large as five, a Thomas layup made it a one possession game, 58-61, 1:14 seconds later.
Three Chestnut Hill free throws grew the lead to six and despite a 3-pointer from Thomas to make it a one possession game one final time, 65-68, with 14 seconds left, the Griffins closed out the contest by making 4-of-4 free throws to cap a stretch in which they made 8-of-8 over the final 1:09.
Both teams shot extremely efficiently from the foul line, with USciences making 17-of-18 (94.4 percent) and Chestnut Hill making 16-of-17 (94.1). For the Devils, it was the best free throw shooting performance while making double-digit foul shots since opening the 2015-16 season by going a perfect 12-for-12.
Abbonzio made 4-of-4 as part of her 26-point performance, which included four 3-pointers to move her into a tie for sixth in program history with 119 for her career.
Thomas also made 4-of-4 en route to 18 points, while Vitelli was also in double-figures with 11. The two each had five rebounds.
University of the Sciences forced 26 Chestnut Hill turnovers that led to 17 points but could not overcome shooting just 31.9 percent (21-of-66) and getting outrebounded 48-28.
The Devils scored the first six points of the game of the game and were still leading by five, 9-4, when Abbonizio made a 3-pointer with 4:42 showing.
Chestnut Hill (5-4, 2-1) scored the next nine points though to help it take a 13-11 advantage into the second quarter.
Vitelli made three free throws 10 seconds out of the break to momentarily put USciences back on top, 14-13, but the Griffins responded with a 3-pointer and aside from one tie they would lead the remainder of the half. The advantage reached as high as eight, 29-21, on a triple with 3:03 to go.
Abbonizio answered with a trifecta of her own and then pulled University of the Sciences within three, 28-31, heading into the locker room with a jumper just three seconds before the buzzer.
Chestnut Hill made a triple 40 seconds out of the half to reestablish a six-point advantage, but University of the Sciences used a 9-2 surge to take its first second half lead, 37-36, when Irisa Ye made two free throws with 5:52 showing.
The Griffins hit back-to-back trifectas to go back on top and would lead by at least two possessions until USciences' early fourth quarter fun.
University of the Sciences takes the next week off for finals before returning to action next on Saturday, Dec. 16 when it travels to Saint Rose to take on American International College at 3 p.m.