Janea Aiken muscled in a layup and added two free throws with under 11 seconds to play to send C.W. Post to its first NCAA tournament in 10 years as the Pioneers came back to defeat Bridgeport, 69-66.

C.W. Post, who advanced to its first NCAA Tournament since 2001 when it defeated then-Philadelphia Textile, 69-66, improves to 17-12 overall. Bridgeport ends its season with a 17-14 overall record.

C.W. Post shot .473 (26 of 55) from the field, including 5-of-12 behind the arc, and was 12-for-23 at the free-throw line. In addition, the Pioneers outrebounded the Purple Knights, 35-34. Bridgeport shot .429 (24 of 56) from field-goal range.

In the first half, C.W. Post grabbed an early lead but Bridgeport stayed close behind and tied the game at 12-all when Elsebeth Birman sank a 6-foot jumper out front.

The Pioneers matched it when junior guard Felicia Joyner hit a short jumper. The game saw three more tie-ups before Bridgeport grabbed the lead when Kelly Keil converted two free throws that started a 7-0 Purple Knight run and a 25-18 lead.

C.W. Post battled back and tied the game when Aiken sank a layup at 5:40. Sophomore guard Ashley Caggiano nailed down a jumper. The Purple Knights tied the game up once more in the half when Keil sank two more free throws with 4:56 to play but Joyner helped the Pioneers regain the lead with two free throws at 4:29.

The Pioneers maintained the lead for the remainder of the half and headed to the locker room with a 40-33 lead.

C.W. Post was able to fend off Bridgeport and maintain its lead through most of the second half but the fireworks started with less than 6 minutes to play when the Purple Knights began to carry out their comeback.

Keil scored on a fade away jumper to tie the game at 58-all and followed up a minute later with a layup to give Bridgeport the lead. The Pioneers missed on a jumper and a long three and Bridgeport soon scored again when Elinor Avny scored a layup.

The Pioneers struggled to make up the difference with missed jumpers and free throws and were looking a late game collapse as the final minute on the clock wound down. But instead they continued to fight and with 16.1 seconds on the clock and the ball in C.W. Post’s possession, Aiken grabbed an offensive rebound and quickly called timeout. Following the break, Aiken dribbled for a hard layup to give her team a one point lead (67-66). And after a missed three on Bridgeport’s end, Aiken was fouled and went to the line, where she sank both free throws with one second to play to ice over the game for the Pioneers.

Following the game, Aiken was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Joyner and senior forward Anthia Smith (Elmira, N.Y.) were also named to the ECC All-Tournament Team.

Aiken finished the game with 23 points while Joyner added 14. Caggiano chipped in 12 points with four assists.

Keil, who was also named to the all-tournament team along with teammate Ivana Savic, finished the game with 27 points and 14 rebounds with four blocks for the Purple Knights. Edna Marant added 10 points and five rebounds. Savic poured in 11 points with four rebounds, four assists and two steals.