Aysha Williams Pushes Mercy to 79-74 Overtime Win
Mercy College sophomore Aysha Williams blocked a shot by NYIT’s Alexandra Venuto with five seconds remaining in overtime, and the Mavericks women’s basketball team held on for a 79-74 win on Saturday afternoon, in East Coast Conference action.
The game was vital for Mercy (5-12; 3-9 ECC), who is now just one game behind NYIT (6-12; 4-9 ECC) in league play. Mercy has now defeated NYIT twice this season, with the third and final matchup scheduled for Feb. 23, in Old Westbury, N.Y.
Mercy struggled mightily as the game began, recording just one field goal in its first 14 possessions. Meanwhile, the Bears built a 13-2 lead with 13:48 to play. Mercy finally found traction on the defensive end, and forced several turnovers that led to easy points. With 9:52 to go in the half, the Mavericks had climbed the mountain, and took the lead at 16-15 on a pair of Jasmine Williams (Stratford, Conn./Greens Farms Academy) free throws.
Mercy kept up the pressure, and went on to outscore NYIT for the half, taking a 35-23 lead.
In the second half, Mercy quickly extended the lead to as many as 16 points early on. Refusing to go quietly, the Bears went on a magical 21-4 run, and took a tenuous one point lead at 46-45 with 11:22 to go in regulation. Play remained tight for the rest of the half.
Aysha Williams (New Rochelle, N.Y./New Rochelle) hit a pair of free throws with 1:47 to go in the second half, giving Mercy the lead at 63-62. Senior Sam DeVore (Norwich, Conn./Norwich Free Academy) hit another free throw a minute later, and Mercy had a two-point lead.
With 18 seconds to play, NYIT’s Rebecca Lynch hit a pair of free throws, knotting the game at 64 points apiece. Mercy had one final possession, but a turnover with under three seconds to go sent the game into overtime.
In bonus basketball, NYIT won the opening tip, and Cierra Baker made a breakaway layup. The Mavericks responded with a convincing 6-0 run, with Aysha Williams scoring four of those points. NYIT fought back, and Baker’s free throws at 2:26 knotted the game at 70.
Moments later, the game was tied again at 72. It was the tenth and final tied score of the game.
Next, junior Simone Williams (Waldorf, Md./Lackey) made a layup, driving the baseline. After senior Ashley Borofsky (Southington, Conn./Southington) made a free throw, Mercy had built a three-point lead with 24 seconds to play.
Tech’s Baker made two more free throws, her 25th and 26th points of the game, and the lead was back to just one with 23 seconds left in the first overtime.
Then, it became the Aysha Williams show. Her pair of free throws game Mercy a 77-74 lead with 16 seconds to play. On the ensuing NYIT possession, Venuto tried a three-pointer from the corner, and Aysha Williams blocked it back into Venuto and out of bounds, and Mercy took possession with under five seconds to go. She then hit another pair of free throws with under four seconds to play, and Mercy claimed the 79-74 win.
For the game, NYIT’s Baker led all players in points with 26, and rebounds with 16. Teammate Rebecca Lynch added 25 points before fouling out in the game’s waning moments. For Mercy, Aysha Williams had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. She made 15 of her 16 free throw attempts. Simone Williams had her own double-double, with ten points and ten assists.
Mercy, who has now won three times in its last six games, heads to Molloy College on Monday night, January 31.