Morgan Morrison, NYU women beat Smith 51-41 to win program’s 2nd NCAA D-III title

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Morgan Morrison scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Belle Pellecchia added 12 points and NYU beat Smith 51-41 Saturday night to win the program’s second NCAA Division III national championship and first since 1997.

Megan Bauman scored six — including 4 of 4 from the free-throw line the final seconds — of her 10 points in the fourth quarter and Natalie Bruns added nine points, nine rebounds and five blocks for NYU (31-0). The Violets are undefeated since they lost to Transylvania, the eventual national champions, in the Elite 8 last season and went into the title game with an average margin of victory of plus-26.7.

Smith (30-4) had its 16-game win streak snapped.

Pellecchia scored six points as NYU jumped to an 8-0 lead about 4 minutes into the game and the Pioneers never led. Smith twice cut its deficit to two points — at 17-15 early in the second quarter and 23-21 going into halftime — but got no closer.

Sofia Rosa scored 19 points on 9-of-18 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds before she fouled out with about 2 minutes to play for Smith. Jessie Ruffner added 10 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Ruffner and Ally Yamada, who made 3 of 11 from the field and finished with eight points, went into the game averaging a combined 29 points on 51% shooting this season.

The Pioneers lost to Transylvania in the Final Four last season, ending the program’s deepest run in the NCAA Tournament, and then lost three starters to graduation: Kateyln Pickunka, Dashelle Gleissner, and Morrison, the 2023 Division III Player of the Year, who transferred to NYU as a graduated student in the offseason.

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