ASTON, Pa. -- The Penn State Brandywine women's basketball team came up short during its season opener Thursday night as the Lions dropped a 96-78 decision at Neumann University.
Neumann raced out to a 16-8 lead, but Brandywine rallied, using a 10-0 run to take a two-point edge. Nikki Velez (Gloucester, N.J./Gloucester City) spurred the run with six points, including the go-ahead three-pointer. The Knights countered with five-straight points to end the period and quickly moved in front by six early in the second quarter.
The Lions trimmed the deficit to two following a free throw from Amelia Brooks (Springfield, Pa./Springfield) with 6:56 to play in the second quarter; however, Neumann used a 10-2 surge during the final three minutes of the half to take a 12-point edge into the break.
Brandywine pulled as close as eight points as Dairayonna Stewart-Harold (New Castle, Del./William Penn) knocked down a pair of jumpers and Hope Coacher (Ardmore, Pa./Haverford) sank three-straight free throws midway through the third quarter. Chelsea Keebler answered with a triple for the Knights, who scored eight of the next nine points, stretching the lead to 17 before Velez ended the third quarter with a three-pointer of her own.
Despite nine points from Velez during the fourth stanza, Brandywine could not cut the margin to single digits as the Knights pulled away during the final minutes.
Velez topped the Lions in scoring with 24 points, passing Amanda Congialdi for third all-time in scoring at Brandywine on her 21st birthday, while Stewart-Harold, Amanda Floyd (Glenolden, Pa./Interboro) and Madison D'Ambrosio (Springfield, Pa./Springfield) each tallied nine points.
D'Ambrosio hauled in eight boards for the Lions, who grabbed 18 offensive boards as a team. Floyd and Ally Giannakarios (Brookhaven, Pa./Sun Valley) both pulled down seven rebounds.
The difference in the game came from beyond the arc as the Knights connected on 13 triples. Velez knocked down half of Brandywine's eight three-pointers.