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Rittenhouse, Harkenrider help AU basketball down Morrisville, 91-84 in OT in exciting season opener (Steve Harrison photo gallery)

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Story courtesy Alfred University Athletics (gosaxons.com)

A competitive season-opening matchup for the Alfred University women’s basketball team ended with a 91-84 overtime victory against Morrisville State College on Tuesday night from the Terry S. Galanis Family Arena.

The Saxons (1-0) shot 45.8 percent from the field while forcing the Mustangs (0-1) to 21 turnovers.

Karly Welty (Portville) led the Saxons with career-high marks of 21 points and 14 rebounds. Grace Rittenhouse (Dansville) finished the game with 18 points along with two rebounds and two assists. Gillian Flint (Caledonia-Mumford) added 17 points, 12 of which came from three-point range.

“This wasn’t a November 8th game, this was a playoff game,” Head Coach Mike Moskowitz said. “Both teams played well and had great runs. I’m proud of our toughness and poise down the stretch. We had to push through some fatigue but had great individual performances. Karly played arguably the best game of any player on the Saxons across the last five years. She was efficient, confident, and the toughest kid out there. Felicia did a great job playing through some mistakes early on and played well down the stretch. Grace made some big plays and did a nice job taking it one possession at a time. Allison provided poise and veteran experience to ensure we walked away with a win.”

The Saxons jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the opening two minutes of action thanks to shots from Rittenhouse and Felicia Stewart (Ann Arbor, MI/Pioneer). Later in the quarter, Rittenhouse scored an additional four points as part of a 9-1 run to extend the lead for AU by as many as eight points. Four points from Morrisville in the final two points had Alfred University leading 22-17 entering the second quarter.

The Mustangs found points early in the second quarter, but back-to-back three-point shots from Flint and Rittenhouse gave the Saxons some breathing room. Morrisville put together an 8-0 run to equalize the score with 5:18 remaining in the first half. Rittenhouse, Stewart, and Welty all scored in the final five minutes of action for the Saxons, as they trailed 36-35 at the break.

Alfred University came out with offensive consistency in the second half, compiling a 7-0 lead to take back and extend the lead. Flint scored a team-high eight points in the third quarter, including a three-point shot in the final minute as AU held a 60-56 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Leah Harkenrider (Hornell) opened scoring for the Saxons with a three-point shot in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs retaliated with consecutive shots from deep to lead by one point with 6:18 remaining in regulation. Following three lead changes, Welty scored from the paint to equalize the score with 14 second remaining.

Morrisville drove into the paint in the final seconds, but a crucial defensive stop by Allison O’Toole (Simi Valley, CA/Simi Valley) forced the turnover and sent the game into overtime. Four Saxons scored as part of a 10-0 run in overtime to lead by as many as eight points. The team hit five-of-eight free throw attempts in overtime to seal the overtime victory.

“Our ball movement was spectacular,” Moskowitz said. “We confidently took some high-quality shots and made big defensive plays when we had to. Moving forward, we need to tighten up defensively and rebound at a higher rate. We’re excited to watch some film tomorrow and work on adjustments and carry the momentum going into the weekend.”

Alfred University will next travel to face Buffalo State for a non-conference matchup. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 PM.

Steve Harrison photo gallery:

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