Lady Royals Down Moravian, 64-49, In Landmark Semifinal Action Wednesday At The Long Center Behind Solid Efforts By Sweeney, Pallotta

SCRANTON, Pa.—On a team filled with plenty of senior leadership, it was the play of first-year guard Alison Sweeney (Wall, N.J./Saint Rose) and sophomore forward Tayler Pallotta (Dunmore, Pa./Dunmore) that lifted The University of Scranton to a 64-49 victory over Moravian College in the semifinals of the Landmark Conference tournament Wednesday evening at the Long Center.

Sweeney came off the bench and finished with 15 points and Pallotta had a season-high 14 as the Lady Royals, now 19-6, advanced to the Landmark Conference championship game for the fourth straight year. 

Scranton, which will take on top-seeded Juniata College this Saturday, February 26, at the Kennedy Sports & Recreation Center in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, also received 14 points and seven rebounds from senior guard Jennifer King (Taylor, Pa./Riverside) and 11 points and a career-high 13 rebounds from senior guard Megan Kopecki (Millington, N.J./Watchung Hills Regional).

Senior guard/forward Amy Heffner (Schnecksville, Pa./Parkland) led the Lady Greyhounds, 14-12, with 15 points, junior forward Alexandra Blair (Hellertown, Pa./Bethlehem Catholic) had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard/forward Emily Smith (East Stroudsburg, Pa./East Stroudsburg South) chipped in 11 points.

The Lady Royals led from start to finish, jumping out to a 34-19 halftime lead, but Moravian didn't go away quietly.

Heffner hit a pair of 3-pointers midway through the second half as the Lady Greyhounds whittled the lead down to five with 12:29 remaining and trailed by only six with 11:17 left.  Sweeney then sandwiched a 3-pointer and a jump shot around a lay-up by Blair to give Scranton some breathing room, 48-39.  King followed with a 3-pointer and Pallotta hit a short jump shot in the lane to extend the lead to 14, 53-39, with 8:20 remaining.

Moravian did pull within 11 points with 3:59 left before Pallotta and Kopecki hit one of two free throws apiece and Kopecki followed with a lay-up and two free throws to break it open, 63-46, with 1:45 left.

The Lady Royals held a 42-35 advantage in rebounding and converted 20 Lady Greyhound turnovers into 22 points, but more importantly, kept Moravian off the free throw line.  The Lady Greyhounds entered the game averaging nearly 27 attempts, but got to the charity stripe only 12 times and made eight (66.7 percent).

Moravian also shot only 30.8 percent from the field in the first half and just 33.9 percent for the game (19 of 56).

Juniata defeated fourth-seeded Catholic University, 74-61, to move into the Landmark Conference championship for the second time in four years.  The Eagles lost to Scranton in the 2008 title game, 52-50, at the Long Center.

News & Notes:  Juniata swept the regular-season games against Scranton, winning 81-68 at the Long Center on January 14 and 68-67 in overtime in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, on February 12…the winner of Saturday's Landmark Conference championship game receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III championships, whose 64-team field will be announced Monday, February 28…Pallotta has scored in double figures in each of her last two games and four times this season...Scranton has now advanced into the championship game of a conference tournament in each of the last eight years.

Newspaper Box Score

MORAVIAN (14-12)
Amy Heffner 5-10 3-4 15; Alexandra Blair 6-12 2-5 14; Emily Smith 5-16 0-0 11; Amanda Kreuder 2-3 1-1 5; Hilary Murray 0-2 2-2 2; Katie O'Rourke 1-6 0-0 2; Caitlin Hrebik 0-0 0-0 0; Laura Jordan 0-4 0-0 0; Alyssa Hann 0-0 0-0 0; Ericka Blair 0-2 0-0 0; Jennie Miller 0-1 0-0 0; Amie Ballo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-56 8-12 49.

Alison Sweeney 6-13 2-2 15; Tayler Pallotta 6-11 2-4 14; Jennifer King 5-10 0-1 14; Megan Kopecki 4-8 3-5 11; Colleen McLane 2-6 0-0 6; Christina Hiltunen 1-1 0-0 3; Katie Cunningham 0-0 1-2 1; Shernai Bentley 0-3 0-0 0; Sarah Gage 0-2 0-0 0; Courtney Roselle 0-2 0-0 0; Sidney Jaques 0-1 0-0 0; Katherine Torto 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-59 8-14 64.

Moravian......................   19   30  -   49
The University of Scranton....   34   30  -   64

3-point goals--Moravian 3-11 (Amy Heffner 2-7; Emily Smith 1-3; Hilary Murray 0-1), The University of Scranton 8-19 (Jennifer King 4-6; Colleen McLane 2-5; Christina Hiltunen 1-1; Alison Sweeney 1-4; Megan Kopecki 0-3). Fouled out--Moravian-None, The University of Scranton-None. Rebounds--Moravian 35 (Alexandra Blair 11), The University of Scranton 42 (Megan Kopecki 13). Assists--Moravian 15 (Emily Smith 4; Alexandra Blair 4), The University of Scranton 21 (Colleen McLane 5; Megan Kopecki 5). Total fouls--Moravian 12, The University of Scranton 15. Technical fouls--Moravian-None, The University of Scranton-None. A-500