|Sofia Recupero||Emily Sheehan|
SCRANTON, Pa. - Junior forward Sofia Recupero (Whitestone, N.Y./Saint Francis Prep) scored a game-high 19 points, while fellow junior Emily Sheehan (Dunmore, Pa./Dunmore) pitched in with 14 points of her own to lead a furious comeback by the eighth-ranked University of Scranton women's basketball in the second half against DeSales in an eventual 63-58 win on Monday night at the John Long Center.
With the victory, Scranton improved to 4-0 overall, while DeSales fell to 4-1 with the defeat.
To begin the contest, things could not have got off worst for Scranton, as the visiting Bulldogs shocked the Lady Royals out of the gate by opening an 18-4 lead with 3:11 to go in the first quarter. The double-digit lead for DeSales held through the rest of the quarter, as they led 21-9 after the opening frame.
In the second, Scranton started the frame by chipping away at the DeSales lead, eventually getting it down to six points (24-18) with 6:32 left after a 9-2 Lady Royals run. The Bulldogs, however, punched back, going on a 10-0 run of their own to open their biggest lead of the game at 34-18 with 3:56 to go in the first half.
Scranton, however, ended the first half strong, as a 10-0 Lady Royals run (which was capped off by a Recupero lay-up with 22 seconds left) sliced the DeSales lead all the way down to six points at 34-28 at halftime.
With some momentum entering the third quarter, DeSales quickly went back up double-digit on Scranton (39-29) two and a half minutes into the frame. For the first half of the third quarter, the Bulldogs continued to keep the Lady Royals at bay, as they held a 44-35 lead with 5:13 to go in the period.
Here, the comeback began for Scranton.
First, the Lady Royals went on a quick 8-0 run to get to within one point of DeSales with 2:35 left at 44-43. DeSales, however, went back up six (49-43), before Recupero ended the period with a three-point play for Scranton, making it a 49-46 game entering the final period.
To start the fourth, junior Lily Warhaftig's (Harlem, N.Y./Poly Prep) lay-in cut the DeSales lead down to 49-48, and after a DeSales basket, Sheehan nailed a huge three-pointer with 8:19 to go to tie the game up for the first time all evening at 51-all.
Over a minute later, Sheehan cashed in on a lay-in, giving the Lady Royals their first lead of the game at 53-51. This was followed by a massive three-pointer by senior guard Bridgette Mann (Canadensis, Pa./Wallenpaupack), whose triple with 5:02 left gave Scranton a 56-51 lead.
After a Recupero made free throw gave Scranton a 57-51 lead, the Lady Royals were able to hang on down the stretch thanks to a strong defense that came up big throughout the second half.
Eventually, DeSales sliced the Lady Royals lead down to a basket at 60-58 with 1:16 to go. After Scranton turned it over on a shot clock violation, DeSales had a chance to tie or take the lead with under 30 seconds left. But, the Lady Royals defense forced a missed shot that was rebounded by Mann with 20 seconds to go.
On the proceeding inbounds, Mann was fouled, but made just one of two free throws, giving DeSales one more shot to tie with 13 seconds left. Scranton, however, forced another missed jumper and grabbed a rebound on defense (by Sheehan). Recupero was eventually fouled and proceeded to clinch the win with a pair of made free throws, sealing the comeback triumph for the Lady Royals.
Overall, Recupero had her best night of the short season in the win, as she finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Recupero, who also had two assists in the win, did a lot of damage on the night from the charity stripe, as she went 9-of-11 from the free throw line in the win.
Elsewhere, Sheehan came up huge on the offensive end down the stretch in the victory, finishing with 14 points, while recording three steals. Sheehan, who also went 4-of-4 from the free throw line, also had three rebounds and an assist in the win.
Rounding out the top scorers on the night were Mann and freshman Hannah Kowalski (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights), who scored eight points, apiece.
Of note, the Scranton defense was strong after struggling in the opening quarter. In the decisive fourth quarter that saw the Lady Royals take over the game, Scranton held DeSales to just nine points on 4-of-14 shooting from the floor.
It'll be a quick turnaround for the University of Scranton women's basketball team, as they take on Cabrini on Wednesday inside the Long Center. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.