By Merle Exit
The Queens College women’s basketball team didn’t expect Friday the 13th to be its unlucky day.
The ECC champion Knights fell in their NCAA tournament opener 80-66 to Stonehill at Adelphi University last weekend. The defeat ends their season and hopes of a tourney run.
Stonehill dominated the game and connected on eight 3-pointers. The Knights were looking to close the gap in the second half, like they did in the conference final, but Stonehill only built on its lead. Madison Rowland led Queens with 21 points and 10 rebounds and sister Mackenzie Rowland chipped in 17 points and eight boards.
Queens College finished the season 22-8 overall and reached the 20-win plateau for a second straight year under fourth-year Coach Bet Naumovski, The Knights reached the Division II NCAA tournament for the second time in its history, but have yet to earn a victory.
“I see this team as a tremendous success,” Naumovski said. “We had challenges that no other team in the NCAA East Region faces and we have never viewed ourselves as underdogs.”
She added that the team dealt with random squirrels and birds entering the gym, construction on one half of the facility, drilling on the other and no temperature control during the year, The program’s budget is not large, according to Naumovski.
Still the Knights have won.
“We have never let any of those things distract us from our goals of winning the ECC Championship and making an NCAA Tournament appearance,” the coach said. “We are doing a lot more with a lot less so I am very proud that this team is competing at a national level.”
The Rowland sisters regularly posted doubles-doubles this season. Madison Rowland earned plenty of well deserved accolades, but Queens College wouldn’t be where it is without the contributions of Kristen Korzevinski and Elisabeth Gully, according to Naumovski. Korzevinki is the team’s glue and its top defender and Gully is the group’s leader and a key rebounder and post defender.
“Kristen Korzevinski is probably the biggest unsung hero on our team,” Naumovski said. “She is mentally our toughest player and our most offensively efficient player.
No matter what role a player filled it all added up to a memorable season for Queens College, including a win at Madison Square Garden.
“I couldn’t have been more happy with how the season went,” Gully said. “Winning the ECC Championship game was the highlight of the season for me. Just being in the MSG game and having our team beat Immaculata was like a vendetta. It was also very exciting for me to be in the NCAA tournament.”