bball

From left, head coach Marc Mitchell and guards Gabrielle Harris and Kendrea Williams ended their season Tuesday.

In a tug for a first-round victory, the Peacocks fell short on Tuesday.

The Saint Peter’s University’s women’s basketball team lost 53-64 to the Niagara Purple Eagles in the opening round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Basketball championships in Atlantic City Tuesday morning. Redshirt junior guard Gabrielle Harris ran the offense for SPU in her first MAAC appearance while seniors Zoe Pero and Sammy Lochner racked up a handful of points in their final game.

"They know how painful it feels right now," said head coach Marc Mitchell.

Mitchell added on Tuesday that the seniors helped add experience to the team. But, looking ahead, he said that the future of the Peacocks is “bright.”

Sophomore guard Briyanah Richardson -- whose eight rebounds marked a season-high -- scored SPU’s first points with over four minutes left in the first quarter, getting the pace going for the squad. A pair of threes from guards Taiah Thornton -- who was named to All-MAAC Third Team -- and Cinnamon Dockery helped the Peacocks catch up 15-16 before the end of the first.

Gears shifted in the second quarter where a pair of foul shots by Harris -- who set a new career-high in free throws -- and corner three-ball from redshirt junior guard Kendrea Williams pushed SPU in the lead, 27-20. The squad held a 29-24 advantage over the No. 8 seed going into halftime.

But the Purple Eagles kicked up in the third quarter thanks to three-pointers, layups and fastbreaks. SPU and Niagara butted heads until the latter secured a solid lead for the remainder of the quarter with a layup; Jumpers from Williams and Thornton and good foul shots from Harris and Pero kept the game on edge.

In the fourth, layups from Pero and Williams, free throws by Harris and valiant offensive pushes from the squad was not enough for the win. Niagara kept SPU on hold at 53 points until the end of the contest.

The first round elimination follows Saturday’s senior night comeback win against No. 7 Iona, who was also knocked out on Tuesday by No. 10 Monmouth.

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