A Memorable Season for Women’s Basketball

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Women's Basketball Team photo credit: nyitbears.com

Women’s Basketball Team photo credit: nyitbears.com

After breaking the single season win record and clinching the number one seed in the East Coast Conference playoffs, the Bears were determined to win it all. However, things did not go according to plan.

In the opening round off the playoffs, the Bears lost a heartbreaker to the number four seed Roberts Wesleyan. The Bears record breaking ECC season was over and NYIT fell short on their championship goals. All the success must have led to something right? Oh yes it did.

The NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Committee announced that NYIT (24-8) as the number six seed in the East Region of the 2016 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. This was the Bears chance to redeem themselves from a tough loss in the ECC. The last time NYIT appeared in the tournament was in 2013 and lost in the opening round. The Bears wanted to make some noise and proved they belonged.

“I’m proud of the performance of our women’s basketball program and extremely proud of the job that our coaching staff has done,” said Duane Bailey, NYIT Athletic Director. “This has been an historic season for the team.”

There first test was against the number 3 seed (25-6) Philadelphia University Rams. According to the Bears website, the Rams have had the advantage over NYIT in the past as they have beaten them 18 times and won their last meeting in 2009. Now let’s now focus on 2016 as the past does not matter and NYIT proved it.

Shanice Allen led the way as she scored a season high 25 points and Dina Ragab contributed with a Double-Double that helped NYIT upset the Rams 88-74 in the opening round of the playoffs.

“We committed to defense and passing at the right time!” said Coach Anthony Crocitto, in his second NCAA appearance at NYIT. “We also re-peaked as a team and it all came together fast.  They are fun to be around and a joy to coach. These ladies listen and compete. We are never outworked on the court, regardless of the outcome.”

They had a bigger test in the next round against the second seeded American International Yellow Jackets. The Bears would once again come through after a 73-69 win. Allen and Ragab led the Bears in shooting. Also, Nina Vukosavljevic contributed with 15 points and 8 assists.

It is now sweet sixteen time and the Bears now faced the ultimate test of the season. Their opponent is against the top seeded Bentley. However, a memorable and unforgettable season would come to a close after losing to Bentley 79-74. The loss was tough but the experience is valuable for the returning players next season who are looking to make an even bigger statement next season.

“Having our team apart of this tournament and making it into the sweet 16 was an incredible experience,” said Vukosavljevic. “No one expected us to make it this far which made the journey and victories that much sweeter. Getting a taste of what it was like to be in the tournament definitely makes us stronger as a team because we set the bar high for ourselves and know what we are capable of doing.”

“We have gotten closer each and every year,” said Coach Crocitto. “These players are driven, and the returning seniors will be focused to win while staying greedy for more.”

Even though they lost, Captain Dina Ragab displayed a great performance in her final game for the Bears. She led the team with 29 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks. She ended her run at NYIT with a great year for not just the program but for her as well. She was awarded ECC Player of the Year and earned inclusion on the 2016 All Tournament-team.

“You will never replace any senior,” said Coach Crocitto. “Dina is a wonderful athlete and an even better person. We bring a lot back to the program but will miss each senior in many different ways. Dina dominated the record books here at NYIT.  These types of players do not come around that often.  She will be missed because of who she is on and off the court. I hope to re-recruit Dina in some capacity as the program would love to have her around next year.”

Dina wasn’t the only one to receive awards for this season. Nina and Captain Shannon Duer were honored with their inclusion on the All-Conference Second Team. Nina appeared in 31 games and led the team with 5.7 assists and 2.2 steals while contributing 10.3 points per game. Shannon also appeared in 31 games leading the team with 11.4 rebounds and second to the team in points (11.4). Finally, you can’t forget about Coach C who was awarded ECC Coach of the Year.

The Bears finished the season 26-9 which is now a new record for wins. Will they break that record next year?

For more information on the Bears, log onto nyitbears.com and follow the Bears @nyitbears.

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