The women’s basketball team headed to Salisbury, Md., for some action in the Salisbury University Optimist Tournament. The Engineers first game would be against the hosts, but RPI would handle them in an overtime victory in which the Engineers had four players score double digits.
The Salisbury Sea Gulls held the lead for the majority of the first half and got their lead up to seven several times, and it even hit nine points with just 58 seconds left on the clock. However, RPI rallied right at the end and made two quick baskets, including a three-pointer by senior Lauren Hayes, to cut the deficit to four by the break.
After the intermission, RPI put the pedal to the metal and went on the attack. The Engineers dominated the first 15 minutes of play and, capped by a series of free throws by senior Nicole Monroe, opened a 13-point advantage over the Sea Gulls.
Salisbury responded and worked down the RPI lead. With only a minute left, Salisbury had managed to tie the game at 56 apiece. Neither would score again with senior Engineer Hillary McKinley blocking a effort right at the end of the second period.
Falling behind right away in the overtime session was not a problem for the Engineers as they reacted to a Salisbury trey with seven consecutive points to make it 63-59. RPI was able to hold on and the contest finished 67-66.
With the win against Salisbury, RPI got to face Southern Virginia University in the tournament championship game. The Engineers came out with the tournament win with an 88-74 scoreline. McKinley would finish with a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds), and freshman Jen Rock scored 14 points to accompany six steals.
It took the Engineers 12 and a half minutes to get the lead, but when they did RPI held it for good. Monroe, Rock and sophomore Kyleigh Oliveira all scored points to help extend the lead all the way to 19 points by the end of the half.
Southern Virginia started the second half strong and got the RPI lead down to 13 points. The Engineers would have none of that, and the lead was restored and extended to 23 points on multiple occasions.
Rensselaer continued to play well but could not extend the lead any further. Instead Southern Virginia cut the deficit to 14 points, but it was too late for a rally and RPI finished as tournament champions.
The season has started very well for the Engineers and they are now sitting with a record of 4-2. McKinley was also honored by the Liberty League as Performer of the Week on November 28 for her performance the week prior. Their next game is against Utica College at the East Campus Arena on Friday before taking a break until December 29 and 30 where it will play in the Salem State Holiday Tournament.