|Alexix Roman||Sarah Payonk||Noelle Alicea|
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Junior forward Alexix Roman (Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack) led the way in the scoring column once again with a game-high 24 points, as the fifth-ranked University of Scranton women's basketball team pulled out a gritty 70-65 victory in overtime at Moravian on Wednesday night in Landmark Conference play.
With the tough road win, Scranton stayed perfect for the season, moving to 20-0 overall and 11-0 in the Landmark Conference. Moravian fell to 15-5 overall and 8-3 in the Landmark with the narrow defeat.
In the first quarter, Scranton came out hot, opening up a 16-8 lead with 1:42 remaining in the period. This proved to be the biggest lead the Lady Royals would hold the rest of the contest, as Moravian quickly sliced the Scranton lead down to 16-14 at the end of the period.
It was more of the same in the second period, but Scranton continued to hold a slim lead throughout a defensive minded 10 minutes of action that saw just 21 combined points scored. The Lady Royals held the slim 11-10 edge in the quarter and headed into intermission leading by three at 27-24.
Throughout the first five minutes of the third quarter, Scranton continued to lead, opening up a 37-30 margin on the Greyhounds.
Here, Moravian made a run that ultimately gave them the lead heading into the final stanza, as they raced on a 12-3 spurt over the final five minutes to take their first lead of the night over Scranton at 42-40 entering the fourth.
This set up a thrilling fourth quarter that saw the lead swing back and forth and the game be knotted up on three separate occasions.
In regulation, the game came to a head with 1:18 left, as a layup by junior forward Sarah Payonk (Schweksville, Pa./Spring-Ford) gave the Lady Royals a 53-51 lead.
After forcing a Moravian turnover with 40 seconds left, Scranton held the ball until Roman was fouled with 12 seconds remaining. The junior made one of two free throws, giving Scranton a 54-51 edge late.
On their final possession of regulation, Moravian made just their fourth three-pointer of the game with four seconds left to tie the game for the eighth time on the evening at 54-54. A last second three by Scranton was missed, thus sending the game to overtime.
In the overtime period, however, Scranton scored the first four points to go up 58-54, only to see Moravian cut the lead down to a single point with 1:44 left after a three-pointer (62-61). On the ensuing possession, Roman was fouled on a successful lay-up, then made the free throw to put Scranton up by four (65-61) with 1:22 left.
Despite being down five, Moravian made it interesting late, cutting the Lady Royal lead down to three points on two separate occasions. But, each time that happened, senior guard Noelle Alicea (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East) extinguished the threat by nailing four free throws in a row to finally put away Moravian on the evening.
Overall, Roman went 9-of-12 from the floor on the evening in her 24-point game, also snatching seven rebounds overall. This marked the 19th time in 20 games she has scored in double-figures for Scranton and the 10th time she scored over 20 points in a game.
For Payonk, it was another all-around performance, as she ended with another double-double (15 points, 16 rebounds), while dishing out seven assists. She has now scored in double-figures in 15 of the last 16 games, posting her ninth double-double of the season in the win.
Rounding out the top scorers for Scranton was Alicea, who finished with 11 points. Also, in the overtime period, Scranton went a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and salted the game away with an 8-of-9 performance from the free throw line.
The University of Scranton women's basketball team returns to action on Saturday, hosting Juniata in Landmark Conference action inside the John Long Center on Wall of Fame Day. Tip-off is set for 3:15 p.m.