The stage is set for the third-ranked and unbeaten University of Scranton women's basketball team, as the top-seeded Lady Royals will host third-seeded Catholic in the 2016 Landmark Conference Championship Game on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. inside the John Long Center.
Scranton, now 26-0 on the year, will be in search of their fourth Landmark Conference title since joining the conference in 2007 on Saturday, along with their 25th conference championship in program history.
The Lady Royals advanced to the Championship Game after a convincing 66-38 victory over fourth-seeded Susquehanna in the Semifinals of the Landmark Playoffs on Wednesday night.
In the victory, Scranton overcame a sluggish first quarter to take a 27-22 lead into intermission, then proceeded to outscore the visiting Crusaders 39-16 in the second half to pull away. In all, Scranton allowed Susquehanna to shoot just 27.9 percent from the floor in the win, including a 11.1 percent clip from three-point range.
Overall, junior forward Alexix Roman (Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack) paced the Lady Royals for the 17th time on the year in the scoring department, ending with a game-high 22 points. The only other double-digit scorer in the win was senior guard Jaclyn Gantz (Havertown, Pa./Haverford), who finished with 13 points.
Catholic earned their way into Saturday's championship tilt off of a thrilling 84-77 upset victory at second-seeded Moravian in overtime on Wednesday night.
Senior Jayni Webster (24 points) and junior Melissa Erico (27 points) each had career-highs in the scoring department in the win, but it was a three-pointer at the buzzer of regulation by junior Bridget Power that sent the game into extras, where Catholic took control to take a seven point upset win.
This season, Scranton has had their way with Catholic in both regular season showdowns.
First on Jan. 16, junior forward Sarah Payonk (Schweksville, Pa./Spring-Ford) posted the first triple-double (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) for the Lady Royals since 2003 in a convincing 70-52 victory at the Long Center.
Last Saturday, Scranton went to Catholic and controlled things from the start, opening up an insurmountable 24-5 lead in the first quarter, evenutally rolling to 84-59 victory on the road.
Freshman guard Bridgette Mann (Canadensis, Pa./Wallenpaupack) led the way in the win, scoring 20 points (Mann had 21 points in the first game against Catholic, as well).
This will be the second straight season that Catholic and Scranton will meet for the Landmark Conference's Women's Basketball title. In 2015, the Cardinals walked out of the Long Center victorious, taking a 52-51 decision from the host Lady Royals.
Admission to Saturday's game at the John Long Center is $5 for adults, and $3 for seniors (62 and older) and children (ages 11-17). Children ages 10 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. All students, faculty and staff from Landmark Conference institutions are also admitted for free with school ID.
Live stats, audio and video links for the game are available here.
Game notes for the contest are also available here.