Newport News, Va. - In a hard-fought Friday night battle, The Catholic University of America women's basketball fell 69-64 to Lynchburg College in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament at Christopher Newport.
Landmark Conference Player of the Year senior Michelle DeSantis finished her career in style as she sunk 9-of-9 from the free throw line and tallied a game-high 31-points. The Trumbull, Conn., native dished out four assists and pulled down five rebounds.
DeSantis opened the game with 10 points in the first quarter as the Cards trailed 21-20 after the 10 minutes.
Launi and junior Payton Smith started the second quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Cardinals ahead 26-21. The Cards and Hornets battled back-and-fourth in the period with five additional lead changes but it was Lynchburg that pulled ahead for a 41-39 advantage at halftime.
The Hornets began the second half on an 8-4 run (49-43) before Launi hit a 3-point shot to bring the Cardinals within three points. Launi scored the first seven points of the third period while DeSantis tallied four and sophomore Emily O'Connor added two. Catholic trailed by five (57-52) at the end of the quarter.
Catholic rallied in the fourth quarter with less than five minutes remaining as a DeSantis layup tied the game at 62-all. The game remained tied for the following 2:30. Lynchburg broke the standstill with a layup bur DeSantis answered again with two made foul shots.
With one minute to play the Hornets hit a 3-point shot and then added two free throws to advance to round two of the NCAA DIII Tournament.
The Cardinals finish the 2016-17 season with 23-5 overall and 13-1 in the Landmark Conference. This is Catholic's their fourth appearance in the NCAA DIII Championship Tournament in six seasons. Under the direction of head coach Matt Donohue, the Cardinals have completed their seventh-consecutive winning season, the most in program history.
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