KINGS POINT, N.Y. — Facing a 15-0 deficit to start the final game of the season, it would have been easy for Goucher to mail things in and get an early start to its offseason.
The Gophers, however, had other plans. Briana Bull (Baltimore, Md./Owings Mills) had a team-high 21 points, including a go-ahead layup with 1:13 left in the contest to help her team complete a 76-72 comeback victory at Merchant Marine.
Amaka Ezeani (Silver Spring, Md./Paint Branch) and Dominique White (Lubbock, Texas/Potomac Falls) also finished in double figures for Goucher. Ezeani had 18 points, six rebounds and six blocks, hitting 9 of 10 shots from the floor, while White had a season-high 15 points, including three made 3-pointers.
It took nearly seven minutes for the Gophers to convert their first field goal attempt, a made layup from Bull with 13:04 on the clock. After that, though, the visitors slowly began to assert themselves. The Mariner advantage was reduced down to single digits after Ecstacie Ryles (Arundel Mills, Md./Arundel) nailed a jumper to make it 25-17 with 6:07 to go, and by halftime the margin was down to five points at 39-34.
Merchant Marine (6-19, 2-14 Landmark) led by as many as 10 points in the second half, taking a 46-36 lead less than three minutes in on a free throw from Sara Ellenberger. The Gophers scored the next eight points to get within two, but they once again found themselves trailing by seven after Demi VanDerWal hit a layup to put the Mariners up 53-46 with under 10 minutes to play. VanDerWal poured in 26 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists.
Ezeani was limited to five minutes after the break due to foul trouble, but she made the most of that limited time, hitting all six of her shots from the field, including three consecutive layups during a 7-0 Goucher run which tied up the score for the first time since tip-off. The Gophers grabbed their first lead at 55-54 on a made layup from White with 7:56 remaining.
The lead switched hands nine times after that, with Goucher finding itself down 68-65 with under two minutes left in the season.
A clutch 3-pointer from White leveled things up with 1:38 left, and Bri Prince (Coopersburg, Pa./Southern Lehigh) drew a big charge on VanDerWal on the ensuing Merchant Marine possession. That gave the Gophers a chance to retake the lead, and Bull cashed in on the opportunity.
After a missed Mariner jumper, Bull raced down the court for another layup, and Goucher was able to close things out in the final seconds.
Bull finished in double figures for the 12th time this season, and the fourth time out of the final five games down the stretch. She hit 7 of 17 shots and also chipped in six assists, five boards and three steals.
Today's triumph snapped a 13-game losing streak for the Gophers (5-19, 1-15). Their 76 points was the most since an 87-36 win over Notre Dame (Md.) on Nov. 20.