Elite Eight-Bound

Angeletti’s Wildcats Wins Second East Regional

Panama graduate Natalie Angeletti is pictured with her parents Pam and Jeff after the Daemen Wildcats won the NCAA Division II East Region on Monday night. Submitted photo

WALTHAM, Mass. — Elite Eight-bound, again.

For the second time in four seasons, the Daemen University women’s basketball team punched their ticket to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, winning the program’s second East Region Championship with a 69-62 win over No. 4 seed Jefferson University on Monday evening.

The Wildcats, who entered as the No. 6 seed, won their eighth straight game, and improved to 23-7 on the year. Playing in their third East Region championship game in four seasons, the Wildcats picked up their second championship in eight days after winning their third straight East Coast Conference Championship last Sunday to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Daemen’s standout senior guard Alahna Paige (Rochester) was named the Most Valuable Player of the East Region. Paige finished the tournament with 61 total points, averaging 20.3 points per game in each of their three victories in the East Regional Senior forward Natalie Angeletti (Panama) also earned East Region All-Tournament Team honors.

Jefferson opened the game on a 9-4 run, with the Wildcats’ first two scores of the game coming on layups from Claire Pikett (Holland) and Angeletti. Julia Hauer (Binghamton) knocked down back-to-back layups after putting in the work under the basket to keep the game within four, 12-8, with three minutes left in the first. Daemen would go on a 5-2 run to end the quarter and bring the game within three, 16-13, at the end of the first.

Panama graduate Natalie Angeletti cuts down a piece of the net after Daemen University won the NCAA Division II Region on Monday night. Submitted photo

The Wildcats came out on fire to start the second because Angeletti got hot. The senior opened the quarter with a layup and drawing the foul, tied the game at 16 apiece, and followed up with a triple to give Daemen their first lead of the game since 4-2 early in the first. The Rams and Angeletti traded 3-pointers for the next two minutes to bring the game up at 22 halfway through the quarter. From there, the Wildcats scored nine unanswered points after a jumper from Gabby McDuffie (Buffalo), layups from Cecilia Lapertosa (Whitesboro) and Shyla Montgomery (Brockton, Massachusetts) and a 3 from Paige to give Daemen the 31-22 advantage. Jefferson banked a pair of baskets late to cut the Wildcat lead down to five points, but a clutch jumper from Paige with 6 seconds on the clock sent Daemen to the half with a 33-26 advantage. The Wildcats outscored the Rams 20-10 in the second quarter.

Jefferson opened the second half scoring 10 unanswered points to take a 36-33 lead over the Wildcats in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Lapertosa and Hauer snapped the scoring drought with a pair of back-to-back layups to make it 37-36, Daemen on top. After a Ram bucket to regain the lead, Daemen went on a 6-0 run with a jumper from Paige and layups from Lapertosa and Sophie Auer (Lewiston-Porter) to give the Wildcats a five-point lead, 43-38. Daemen would close out the third quarter on a 6-2 run to take a 49-40 lead into the final 10 minutes of play. Going 8 of 13 from the field, Daemen shot 61.5% in the third quarter.

Just like in the beginning of the third quarter, Jefferson went on a run to open the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of 14 points in the first four and a half minutes of the quarter to cut the lead to one, 52-51. Pikett drilled a triple, and after taking an elbow to the face and sitting out for a few minutes in the fourth quarter, Paige put an exclamation point on the game with a three of her own to bring the Cats up 58-51 with 4:04 left to play. Jefferson would knock down a triple and a pair of layups but wouldn’t ever be able to bring the gap closer than four points. Daemen nailed free throws down the stretch to finish the game with a 69-62 victory.

Twenty-three wins ties Daemen’s Division II-era (2015-present) win record. The Wildcats went 23-5 during the 2019-20 season when they punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

NOTES: Earning All-Tournament Team honors for the first time in her four-year Daemen career, Angeletti scored double-digit points for the third straight game, leading the Wildcats offensively with 16 points after shooting 5-of-8 from the field and knocking down both triples and all four free throws while snagging six rebounds and a steal. … Three senior Wildcats — Paige, Angeletti and Kaytlyn Matz — who have played their entire career at Daemen are advancing to the Elite Eight for the second time in their careers. Daemen has won East Region Championship in Paige, Angeletti and Matz’s freshman season (2020-21) and senior season (2023-24), bookending the trio’s careers.


Alexandra Pucci-Schaefer (Fredonia) capped her junior season at SUNY Geneseo with a fourth-place finish in 3-meter diving at the SUNYAC Championships on Feb. 24 at Erie Community College’s Flickinger Athletic Center in Buffalo.

Pucci-Schaefer finished with a score of 401.75 to earn 15 points for SUNY Geneseo, which easily won the women’s title with 1,090.5 points.

A week later, Pucci-Schaefer finished 13th at the Region 4 Championships with 378.15 points.


Gannon Moore (Jamestown) was part of two winning relays as SUNY Geneseo won its 10 straight SUNYAC men’s title on Feb. 24 at Erie Community College’s Flickinger Athletic Center in Buffalo.

Moore teamed up with Christopher Weber, Casey Connors and Charlie Wangelin to claim first in the 800-yard freestyle relay (6:50.77) on the first day of the championships.

On the second day, Moore, Jake Nielsen, Jordan Nielsen and Brian Pabisch captured first in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:20.46.


Tyler Putney (Fredonia) and the Nazareth Golden Flyers ended their season with a 97-90 loss to Utica University in the Empire 8 Conference championship game Feb. 24.

Putney, a sophomore who transferred from Daemen University and was The Post-Journal/OBSERVER’s Player of the Year in 2021, finished his season averaging 8.3 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per game while shooting 41.5% from the field, including 38.5% from 3-point range.

Putney scored a season-high 17 points on Jan. 6 at Alfred University, and ended his season with four straight double-digit scoring games.


Mandy Brink (Panama) and the Brockport Golden Eagles ended their season with a 70-47 loss to Oswego State in the SUNYAC Tournament on Feb. 20.

Brink, a freshman who was The Post-Journal/OBSERVER’s Player of the Year in 2023, finished the season averaging 7.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 31.9% from the field, including 26.5% from 3-point range.

Brink scored a season-high 16 points on Jan. 16 against Fredonia State.


Marley Drake (Jamestown) and the Houghton Highlanders ended their season with a 66-55 loss to St. John Fisher in the Empire 8 Conference Tournament on Feb. 22.

Drake, a freshman, who was a Post-Journal/OBSERVER First-Team All-Star in 2023, finished the season averaging 5.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 25.4% from the field, including 24.4% from 3-point range.

Drake scored a season-high 22 points on Jan. 25 against Keuka.


Paige Gratto (Sherman) and the Pitt-Bradford Panthers ended their season with a 94-50 loss to Penn State-Altoona in the first round of the AMCC Tournament on Feb. 20.

Gratto, a freshman, finished the season averaging 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 41.1% from the field, including 30.4% from 3-point range.

She scored a season-high 31 points Jan. 6 against Carlow.


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