|Bridgette Mann||Sarah Payonk||Alexix Roman|
ASTON, Pa. - Sophomore guard Bridgette Mann (Canadensis, Pa./Wallenpaupack) scored a career-high 25 points, as the University of Scranton women's basketball team used a late rally in the fourth quarter to get past a tough Neumann team on the road on Wednesday night, 66-61.
The Lady Royals, who stayed at number three in this week's WBCA/USA Today Coaches' Top 25 Poll and is now fourth in the D3Hoops.com Top 25 rankings, moved to 6-0 overall on the year with the win. Neumann fell to 2-3 overall with the loss.
In the opening period, Scranton got off to a fast start, quickly opening up a 7-0 lead on Neumann in the first three minutes of the contest. But, the host Knights stayed with the Lady Royals, as Scranton held a 15-12 lead after the first 10 minutes of play.
It was more of the same in the second quarter, as Neumann took their first lead of the evening in the period (21-17). But, Scranton ended the first half strong, scoring five of the final six points of the period (after the game was tied at 24-all) to take a 29-25 lead into intermission.
The third quarter was a back and forth see-saw period, as the game was tied on three separate occasions. Mann, however, gave Scranton the lead at the end of the period after knocking down a pair of free throws late, as the Lady Royals clung to just a 42-41 edge over Neumann as the game entered the final period.
In the last frame, the game remained tight into the final moments of regulation. It came to a head with 2:23 left, as Neumann's Nafisa Saunders made a pair of three throws to give the Knights what turned out to be their final lead of the night at 59-57.
On the next Scranton possession, senior forward Alexix Roman (Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack) hit a lay-up to tie the game back up (for the 10th time on the night) at 59-59 with 2:12 left. After both teams failed to convert on chances over the next minute-plus, Scranton called a timeout with 49 seconds left with the ball.
That possession for Scranton proved to be huge, as senior forward Sarah Payonk (Schwenksville, Pa./Spring-Ford) gave the Lady Royals the lead with a lay-in with 39 seconds left at 61-59. On Neumann's next possession, the Knights turned it over, and put Mann on the free throw line where she nailed two to give Scranton a two-possession lead at 63-59.
After a successful Saunders jumper with 21 seconds left that cut the Scranton lead down to two points (63-61), Mann was fouled again on the Lady Royal inbound, and once again, she delivered at the charity stripe with two made free throws to extend the lead back out to four points (65-61) for the Lady Royals with 19 seconds left.
On the next Neumann possession, they turned it over, and Mann was fouled yet again, where she made one free throw to seal the game for Scranton, giving the Lady Royals their 41st straight regular season victory in the process.
For Mann, it was career-night for the sophomore with her 25-point effort (23 points came in the second half, alone).
Once again, Mann was nearly perfect when she was at the free throw line, making 12-of-13 from the charity stripe on the night. The performance by Mann puts her in a tie for the sixth highest total for free throws made in a game in program history, as well.
Elsewhere, Payonk chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds, while Roman ended the night with 11 points and five rebounds.
The University of Scranton women's basketball team returns to action on Saturday, as they host Juniata in the Lady Royals' Landmark Conference season opener for the 2016-17 season inside the John Long Center. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.