Utica powers through second half to down Naz women

Courtesy of Nazathletics.com

UTICA, N.Y. — Host Utica outscored Nazareth 52-39 in the second half Saturday to erase a three-point halftime deficit as the Pioneers handed the Golden Flyers their second straight defeat, 89-79, in Empire 8 Conference action.

It marked the second straight game in which the Golden Flyers were unable to maintain a halftime lead. Combined with Friday’s loss at Sage, the Golden Flyers stand at 10-5 overall and 2-2 in E8 games. Utica improved to 10-6 overall and 3-2 in the Empire 8. The teams play again Feb. 14 at Nazareth.

The Golden Flyers got 23 points apiece from Rachel Benedict (Brockport) and Jadyn Abrams as well as a season-high 13 points off the bench from senior Erica Bradley, who helped Nazareth stay close with three second-half three-pointers. Nazareth was done in by Utica’s three-pronged offensive attack that featured a career-high 33 points from Nicolette Conkin and 20 points each from Sydney Przygoda and Petrina DeMarco.

Benedict scored 15 of her points in the first half, including a pair of three-point basket in the second quarter that lifted Nazareth to a 40-37 lead at the break.The Golden Flyers had a rough third quarter for the second game in a row as they managed only five baskets and were outscored 28-12 in that 10-minute stretch. Utica went 7-for-13 from the floor, including 5-for-6 from three-point range in the period and sank all nine of their free throw attempts and led 65-52 heading into the fourth.

Nazareth fought back behind the sharp shooting of Bradley, who sank three three-pointers, including one with 2:49 left that closed the gap to four points, 78-74. Utica answered each challenge with three-pointers by DeMarco and Conkin down the stretch and by sinking 8-of-10 foul shots in the fourth quarter and 24-of-28 in the game overall.

Benedict finished with 12 rebounds for Nazareth to go with her 23 points. Abrams had four steals and senior Kristen Simmons equaled a career high with six assists.

The Golden Flyers will look to regroup next weekend with E8 home games against Hartwick (Friday at 7:30 p.m.) and Elmira (Saturday at 4).

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