Recap written by John Kelly Jr.
NEWBURGH, N.Y. (Feb. 16, 2019) – With the Skyline Conference Regular Season Title on the line, the USMMA women's basketball team lost a tough one at the very end up at Mount St. Mary College, 57-56, on Saturday afternoon at the Knights' Kaplan Center Gymnasium. The defeat ended the Mariners' regular season with a 20-3 record, including a 16-2 mark in Skyline play, which is good for the second-seed in the upcoming Skyline Tournament, while the Knights improved to 21-4 and a perfect 18-0 record in Skyline action, clinching the #1 overall seed in next week's tourney.
The Mariners erased a deficit that was as high as 13 points in the first half to tie the game on two separate occasions in the second half, including in the closing seconds.
They found themselves trailing 56-50 with 1:01 left before freshman Julia Dahlke (San Diego, Calif.) connected on back-to-back 3's to tie it at 56-apiece with just over 2 seconds remaining. The Knights drew a foul with under a second to play, however, and hit 1-of-2 at the free-throw line to secure the victory.
Two players recorded double-doubles for Merchant Marine, as freshman Lauren Hunter (Tinley Park, Ill.) posted her 17th of the season with a game-high 22 points and a team-best 13 boards, while junior Shelby Peters (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) scored 10 points and hauled down 10 rebounds. Dahlke knocked down a team-high four three-pointers for 12 points on the afternoon, and junior Taylor Hightower (White Plains, Md.) dished out a team-best five assists.
USMMA opened up a 7-4 lead early in the first quarter after four different lead changes. Mount St. Mary hit a three-pointer at 7:25 to tie it up at 7, and closed out the quarter on a 19-3 run to pull in front 23-10.
The Mariners put together a 6-0 run in the second quarter to trim the Knights' lead down to 26-19 at 4:05. However, the Knights took control down the stretch and led by 10, 32-22, at halftime.
Merchant Marine came out of the break hot to start the third quarter, as they tied the game up at 34-34 on a free-throw by Hunter at 2:35 which ended a 12-2 run. The Knights responded with a 7-0 run, capped off by a layup at 1:13 that gave the hosts a 41-34 advantage. The Mariners would score the last five points of the quarter to get within two, 41-39, after 30 minutes of action.
MSMC's lead got back up to double-figures in the final quarter, 51-41, on a layup at 6:53. USMMA got the deficit down to just 51-48 when Hunter went 1-for-2 at the line at 4:52. The two teams would battle it out down to the wire, but the Knights escaped at the end.
The Knights had three players score in double-figures, as senior Kayla Cleare led the way with 14 points. Classmate Elizabeth Limonta posted a double-double, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds and scoring 12 points, and junior Lyndsay Pace added 11 points.
The Skyline Conference will officially release the bracket for the tournament after the regular season concludes tonight. As the #2 seed, the Mariners have earned a first-round bye and will host the Skyline Semifinals on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Liebertz Gymnasium. More information, live stats and a live video feed of the game will be available with links on the USMMA Women's Basketball Schedule Page.
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