ORANGEBURG, N.Y. – The No. 9 University of the Sciences women's basketball team needed a late rally to force overtime, and the Devils would start hot in the extra period before holding off Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) North leader Dominican for a 71-66 triumph on Saturday afternoon.
USciences' (20-1, 11-1 CACC) ninth straight wins sets up a top-10 showdown with undefeated and No. 2 Jefferson (20-0, 11-0) this Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m. inside of Bobby Morgan Arena.
The Devils would not have forced overtime on Saturday if not for the play of Jordan Vitelli down the stretch, as the junior scored seven points in the final 2:15 to force overtime, including tying the score for the first time in the fourth quarter, 57-57, with just 1:02 to go in regulation.
Both teams missed a shot in the final minute, sending University of the Sciences to its first overtime of the season.
The Devils would start the extra period by making its first three shots, all 3-pointers, to go ahead 66-62 after Jess Huber made her second triple of overtime with 1:44 to play.
After Dominican countered with a basket, Irisa Ye – who made the USciences' other 3-pointer in overtime – made two free throws with 59 seconds remaining to re-establish a four-point advantage.
Dominican (7-4 CACC) came right back with two foul shots of its own and after a University of the Sciences turnover, the Chargers had a chance to tie or take the lead with under 20 seconds left.
Dominican would turn the ball over though, and Vitelli made the ensuing two free throws with nine seconds showing to all but seal the outcome.
That capped an 18-point performance for the junior, who also had four rebounds and a team-high two steals.
She was one of three Devils to score at least 18, as Alex Thomas led all players with 19 and Ye finished with 18.
Thomas also led the game with nine rebounds, falling one board shy of her second double-double in three games and the third of her career.
Ye made 7-of-11 field goals and added six rebounds, second on the team with Taylor Hamm.
Huber was also in double-figures, for the fourth time this season, with 11 points off the bench.
Although USciences outshot Dominican 41.3 percent (26-of-63) to 32.1 percent (18-of-56) and had a 34-22 edge in points in the paint, the Chargers had a major advantage at the free throw line, making 26 (on 33 attempts) compared to the Devils' 14 (16).
University of the Sciences led 19-14 after 10 minutes, by as many as 12 in the final minutes of the second quarter, and 36-27 at the half, but a four-point third quarter allowed Dominican to storm back and take a 43-40 advantage with 10 minutes left in regulation.
The Devils got as close as one point four times in the fourth quarter but could never manage to tie the score or take the lead until Vitelli's late trifecta.
Trailing 54-50 after a Charger free throw with 2:27 remaining, Vitelli made the first of two driving layups 12 seconds later.
It took just Dominican just 16 seconds to answer back with one of their own and after Vitelli's second straight layup with 1:48 showing, the Chargers made 1-of-2 at the line to make it a 3-point game.