Red Flash women pick up tough win
LORETTO — If someone had only shown up to the last 33.9 seconds of Saint Francis’ game against Wagner on Monday evening, they would have seen plenty.
There was more than enough action packed into those last seconds to keep DeGol Arena buzzing and fans on the edge of their seats.
SFU freshman Sam Miller delivered two clutch free throws, and Wagner’s Khaleah Edwards missed a reverse layup that led to a jump ball situation where the clock expired with the Red Flash on the winning side of a 51-50 Northeast Conference win.
“Normally, I tell the team, all we need is a one point win,” Saint Francis coach Keila Whittington said. “When I saw the video from the men’s locker room the other night, Coach Krimmel said ‘One point blowout’. That’s what it came down to (tonight), and we’ll take it.”
Wagner coach Heather Jacobs was unavailable for comment following the game.
With the 33.9 ticks left, the Seahawks had possession of the ball coming out of the timeout, Edwards missed a driving layup and Haley Thomas pulled down the rebound.
Thomas started to advance the ball down the floor before having the ball knocked from her grasp as a scrum ensued on the court for the loose ball.
Wagner’s Alex Cowan came up with the ball, drove to the hoop and a foul was called on Thomas to send the freshman to the line with 20.8 ticks left.
Cowan made the first to give the Seahawks a 50-49 edge, but failed to knock down the second. However, Edwards came up with the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Cowan.
Phee Allen stripped the ball for the Red Flash, and raced ahead into the frontcourt before being tied up to force a jump ball situation.
“I think our team has a lot of depth, and each game someone steps up,” Saint Francis guard Jenna Mastellone said. “Coach always talks about that we need people to step up to take pressure off Karson (Swogger) and Haley. I think, every game we find people who are willing to do that.”
The arrow favored Saint Francis as Whittington used back-to-back timeouts to set up the play she wanted.
“We were trying to get Karson open. It’s a a sequence of things that happen,” Whittington said. “Down screen, down screen. Karson gets it, Karson reverses it. Karson gets another screen, and then she gets open and figures it out.”
That call never got to play out as Miller was fouled off the ball by Wagner’s Katrice Jackson inside the paint.
“This was my first time being in that situation personally. But, all of my teammates had absolute confidence in me,” Miller said. “They were telling me, ‘We believe in you’ … I was just telling myself, ‘you’re in the gym, you shoot these all day. Just have confidence in yourself and hope they’ll go in.’ And, they did.”
With 5.6 ticks left in the game, Miller, who hadn’t even attempted a shot up until that point, stepped to the line, hit the first shot to tie the game, and then connected on the second to put Saint Francis out in front 51-50.
Jacobs called a timeout to advance the ball to midcourt where Cowan inbounded the ball to Edwards, who drove the left side of the hoop. The junior saw a defender coming and attempted a reverse layup that rolled off the rim.
Jada Dapaa, who had just been inserted back into the game during the previous Wagner timeout, came up with the defensive rebound before she was tied up and the game clock ran out.
“For us to get the free throws, and then go down and defend,” Whittington said. “(We) put Jada in the game and Jada comes up with the rebound.”
The officials had to go to the monitor to be sure the jump ball wasn’t called before the game clock had expired.
After looking things over, the trio had decided that the game was over and the Red Flash had officially moved to 6-10 overall and 4-1 in the conference, while the Seahawks remained winless in the NEC and suffered their eighth straight loss.
“The points came at the end at a really important time, but it was all the little baskets, and all of the different defensive stops that happened during the game that put me and the team in that position,” Miller said. “Credit to the rest of the team for getting that defensive stop, because without that, the two free throws mean nothing.”
While a lot of action happened in those last seconds, the game was hardly won in those moments alone.
With Swogger and Thomas, who both finished with 11 points, were swarmed and knocked around all game by the Seahawks, the Red Flash got a response from the rest of the team. Several contributors stepped up and hit big shots and made big defensive plays to do more than their part on the evening.
Lili Benzel knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the early going to help spark Saint Francis at the beginning.
Saint Francis looked inside to Katie Dettwiller at the start of the second quarter and the freshman delivered with back-to-back baskets to trim the lead to three. She also hit on 1-of-2 from the foul line before Haley Thomas converted a driving layup to tie the contest at 33-33 at the 5:14 mark.
Mastellone, who recorded 10 points and five rebounds, nailed back-to-back 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the floor to push the Red Flash out in front (39-35) at 2:28 of the third.
“I think I just try to play within the offense, and it take shots that I think my team needs at the time,” Mastellone said. “I tried to do that, and credit to my team for driving and kicking.”
Saint Francis will be back at DeGol Arena on Saturday for a 4 p.m. tip with Sacred Heart.
“I’ve seen something like that (end of the game sequence), but I’ve never been the person in charge of figuring out what to do,” Whittington said. “Believe me, it didn’t happen the way we planned it, but I’ll take it.”
WAGNER (4-11, 0-4): Hobson 3-8 0-0 9, Krista Grava 3-11 0-0 6, Cowan 1-7 1-2 4, Dailey 3-5 0-0 6, Edwards 3-11 1-2 7, Mullen 4-10 0-0 11, Lenahan 1-3 0-2 3, Heyward 0-2 0-0 0, Jackson 1-4 2-6 4. Totals: 19-61 4-12 50.
SAINT FRANCIS (6-10, 4-1): Dettwiller 2-2 1-2 5, Thomas 4-7 3-3 11, Allen 0-3 0-0 0, Swogger 3-9 2-2 11, Sabino 1-2 0-2 2, Mastellone 4-8 0-0 10, Miller 0-0 2-2 2, Benzel 3-7 0-0 8, Dapaa 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 18-40 8-11 51.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Wagner 18 13 7 12 – 50
Saint Francis 15 11 15 10 – 51
3-point field goals: Wagner 8-24 (Hobson 3-7, Mullen 3-7, Lenahan 1-2, Cowan 1-5, Edwards 0-3); Saint Francis 7-20 (Swogger 3-8, Benzel 2-4, Mastellone 2-6, Allen 0-1, Sabino 0-1). Rebounds: Wagner 29 (Dailey 9); Saint Francis 41 (Thomas 10). Assists: Wagner 12 (Dailey 5); Saint Francis 13 (Thomas 4). Blocks: Wagner 1 (Jackson 1); Saint Francis 2 (Dettwiller, Miller 1 each). Steals: Wagner 7 (Cowan 4); Saint Francis 4 (Dettwiller, Allen, Swogger, Sabino 1 apiece). Turnovers: Wagner 8; Saint Francis 22. Total fouls: Wagner 17; Saint Francis 14. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none.
Officials: Kathleen Lonergan, Kenneth Kelly, Kristi Mosley.