SCRANTON, Pennsylvania – The TCNJ women’s basketball team led, 22-5, at the end of the first quarter, beating Stevenson, 61-50, on Tuesday night in the first round of the Scranton Poinsettia Classic. Nina branchizio scored a high 19 points to beat the Lions, including eight in the first quarter.
Branchizio punctuated this race in the first quarter with three consecutive scorers for the first points of the TCNJ match. Emilie Toy followed a Stevenson basket with a three of his own to bring the score to 9-3 TCNJ, setting off a 14-0 run for the Lions. Izzy Leazier scored four points in the race, and Isabelle Cafaro scored five points in the last minute to give the Lions a 22-5 advantage after a quarter.
The Lions shot 60 percent in the first quarter, and they went 4 for 7 from a three-point range.
After not having scored in the first quarter, Sydney blum came out with a pair of three pointers at the start of the second quarter. The second of those pushed the TCNJ lead to 28-7 with 7:20 remaining. These marks were half of Blum’s points overnight. She finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, making four three runs in five attempts.
Stevenson had a 10-0 run in the second quarter, but TCNJ’s lead was so large at that point that it only reduced the Lions’ lead to 35-22 at the end of the race. Julia setaro broke the race with a pair of free throws with 44 seconds left in the half. TCNJ leads, 38-24, at intermission.
TCNJ reduced the lead to over 20 points in the third quarter. Branchizio hit two more three runs early in the third to bring the score to 44-26, and Arianna McCleod scored four points in a row to bring the score to 48-26. Branchizio followed with another three-pointer to bring the score to 51-26 with 3:58 remaining in the third. Blum hit his two other three-pointers late in the quarter to make it 57-31 after the third.
McCleod had nine points and four rebounds.
The Lions groomed that lead in the fourth quarter, leading to 28 on a Morgan heller layup before the Mustangs in vain cut the margin.
TCNJ will now play in the tournament championship against host Scranton, a 53-44 winner over Dickinson in a nightcap, Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.