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SAINTS PUNCH TICKET TO GNAC FINALS WITH 73-67 WIN OVER NORWICH

SAINTS PUNCH TICKET TO GNAC FINALS WITH 73-67 WIN OVER NORWICH

BOSTON, Mass. – Senior forward Jen Chalk (Horseheads, N.Y.) scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting to power No. 1 (S) Emmanuel College past No. 2 (N) Norwich University, 73-67, Thursday evening in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament Semifinals. The win lifts the Saints to 20-7 on the year marking the 22nd 20-win season in program history while the loss drops the Cadets to 16-11.

EC now advances to the GNAC Championship game this Saturday afternoon and will take on No. 1 (N) Saint Joseph's College (ME) in a rematch of last year's title game.

Emmanuel opened the game on a 5-0 run and extended the lead to 12-4 following a pair of free throws by senior guard Olivia Marks (Canterbury, Conn.). Norwich responded with a 9-0 flurry fueled by four points from senior forward Leanna Winans (Hudson, N.H.) to give the visitors a 13-12 lead with 2:49 to play in the quarter. A pair of free throws by Chalk with 18 seconds left on the clock gave the Saints a 17-16 lead after one. Emmanuel scored six points off of turnovers in the quarter compared to seven second-chance points from the Cadets.

In the second quarter NU senior forward Heather LeBlanc (Sanford, Maine) hit a layup early in the period to put the Cadets ahead 24-21 but Emmanuel answered with four straight points to go back on top 25-24 following a jumper in traffic by junior guard Alisha Fox (National Park, N.J.). Norwich senior guard Kayla Mercer (New Britain, Conn.) put the visitors back on top with a deep triple to make it 27-25 before EC responded with six unanswered to regain the 31-27 advantage with less than three minutes remaining in the half. The Saints carried a 37-32 lead into the half despite getting outrebounded 26-16 in the opening stanza.

Chalk led all scorers at the break with 11 points while Winans and LeBlanc each netted 10 points for Norwich.

After trading baskets early in the third quarter, Marks drained a three in transition to put Emmanuel ahead 46-39. On the next offensive possession EC junior guard Ryan Maynard (Bowie, Md.) connected on another triple to extend the lead to double-digits at 49-39 and the three party continued at the 5:18 mark as Maynard drilled a third three to bump the advantage to 52-39. The Saints continued to build the lead as a steal and fastbreak layup from Fox made it a 56-39 game. A jumper by rookie guard Kayla Weaver (West Haven, Conn.) capped a 17-0 Emmanuel run to give Emmanuel a 58-39 cushion. Minutes later, another Weaver jumper made it 61-43 before Norwich closed out the quarter outscoring the hosts 6-2 to account for a 63-49 score heading into the final frame.

Leading by 15 with just over six minutes to play, Maynard hit a runner in the lane giving the hosts a 71-54 cushion. Back to back layups by LeBlanc cut into the EC lead to 71-60 with 3:34 to play and a three by junior Arianna Harrison (Vernon, Vt.) pulled the visitors within single digits at 71-63. With under a minute remaining Winans buried two free throws to pull Norwich to within seven points at 72-65 but EC was able to hold on for the 73-67 victory.

LeBlanc finished the game with a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds. Winans ended the night with 14 points while Mercer chipped in with 10 points.

For Emmanuel, Chalk added a team-best five rebounds to go with her 17 points while Marks finished the game with 12 points. Maynard registered a season-high 10 points.

EC now heads to Standish, Maine for a shot at the program's 16th GNAC championship and first since 2013. The title game is set to tip at 1:00 PM.