FDU, Fairleigh Dickinson, FDU WBB
(Photo Credit: Vinnie Lucia - JSN)

FDU WBB puts up valiant effort in NEC Tournament Title Game Loss

The FDU WBB Knights (24-7, 14-2 NEC) fell to the Sacred Heart Pioneers (18-13, 12-4 NEC) 72-60 in the Northeast Conference Tournament Title Game at the Stratis Arena Inside the Rothman Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Chloe Wilson led the Knights in scoring with 19 points, Sierra DeAngelo chipped in 15 points, and Ella Fajardo added 11.

"Despite the loss I'm extremely proud of our team and everything that we've accomplished this season," FDU Head Coach Angelika Szumilo explained. "What we've done this season as a program and continue to make the right steps and we're still not done and going to play in the WNIT."

"Obviously they wanted to go dancing and to the NCAA Tournament and it's going to take some time for them to get over the hump because there was a lot of crying in the locker room," Szumilo said. "I do believe we have a very good basketball team. They're very disappointed right now as I'm in myself but this is such a great group."

DeAngelo talked about the 2022-23 season and FDU Basketball career, "Coming into my freshman year we had Coach Szumilo come in and turn the program around. We weren't where we wanted to be every year but had the mentors."

"Last year we lost in the semifinals and heartbreaking but this year we wanted it more than ever before," DeAngelo said about how much the loss hurt in the NEC title game.

Wilson spoke about this year's team, "We did a really good job of staying together from the beginning." "We played all the way to the end and that's what really counts and matters the most." "We fell short but I'm still very proud of our team and I'm just glad that I got to play with a great group of girls and would not want to play with anybody else."

FDU trailed 28-19 with seven minutes left in the second quarter. The Knights could not contain the duo of Sacred Heart's Ny'Ceara Pryor(10 points) and Olivia Tucker(11 points), tallying 21 points.

However, FDU responded with their dynamic pair of Chloe Wilson (12 points) and Sierra DeAngelo(11 points), notching 23 points as the Knights narrowed the deficit to 40-35 at halftime.

In the third quarter, FDU relied on the blistering shooting from Dahomee Forgues(eight points) as she buried back-to-back trifectas to put the Knights up 49-46 with three and a half minutes remaining. By the time the period ended, FDU had led 49-48.

Once the fourth quarter got underway, the Knights led 54-51, but Sacred Heart returned with a run to reclaim the advantage. The teams traded the lead twice as the scoring and pace improved significantly.

With FDU leading 56-55 on a jumper from Ella Fajardo, the Pioneers seized the game with a 10-0 spurt over three minutes. Sacred Heart shot effectively from the perimeter at a 50 percent clip while knocking down nine free throws.

"We turned the ball over in crucial moments especially in the fourth quarter and it came down to execution," Szumilo described.

The Knights return to action in the first round of the WNIT when they face Columbia University (23-5, 12-2 Ivy League) on Friday, March 17th, at the Schiller Court at Levien Gymnasium with tip-off set for 7 p.m.

"We had a lot to prove this year even though we came up short btu we're not done yet," DeAngelo noted. "We're still hungry for more and we want to leave behind a legacy. It's not the conference championship but in the WNIT we're going to continue to work hard and keep fighting no matter where we play."