ST. DAVID'S, Pa. – Penn State Brandywine outscored Eastern 39-27 over the final 20 minutes, but the Lions ultimately could not overcome a 15-point halftime deficit and dropped a 56-53 nonconference women's basketball game at Eastern University on Wednesday evening.
Nikki Velez (Gloucester, N.J./Gloucester City) scored nine of her team-high 18 points on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc during the first quarter as the Lions played the Eagles even through 10 minutes. Regie Robinson's free throw with 13 seconds remaining in the opening stanza helped Eastern knot the score at 13-13.
The second quarter belonged to Eastern, which scored 16 of the period's 17 points. A free throw by Velez with 4:21 to go was the lone marker for the Lions and the Eagles brought a 29-14 edge into the break.
The hosts extended the lead to 16 midway through the third quarter, but following a Brandywine timeout, Brandi James (Glenolden, Pa./Interboro) sank two free throw, Velez buried a triple and Nicolette Napoleon (Springfield, Pa./Penn Charter) connected on a jumper as Brandywine quickly pulled within nine.
After a Velez layup made the score 41-34 through three quarters, Brandywine netted the first seven points of the final stanza, tying the game for the first time since the first quarter on James' layup with 7:15 left.
Eastern answered with the next nine points; however, Brandywine rallied once again, climbing back to within two when Chrissy Gledhill (Secane, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) sank a triple with 3:05 remaining. Amanda Riff responded by hitting a three-pointer for Eastern during the Eagles' ensuing possession and Taylor Price converted a layup to extend the lead to 56-49.
James made one-of-two free throws and Velez followed with her fifth triple of the game with 55 ticks left on the clock, making the Lions' deficit just three; however, Brandywine came up empty during its final possession and Eastern ran out the clock to claim the three-point victory.
In addition to her 18 points, Velez collected seven steals and four rebounds, while James, who sank 7-of-8 free throws, produced 13 points and nine rebounds. Gledhill added nine points and Napoleon hauled in six rebounds for the Lions, who shot 31 percent from the field.
Eastern, which held a 49-40 edge on the boards, received 17 points and 11 rebounds from Price.