WRITTEN BY BRYAN FONSECA
It didn’t come without some classic Northeast Conference drama, but the St. Francis Terriers women’s basketball team returned to Robert Morris and knocked off the Colonials, 72-65 in overtime.
The win marks the Terriers’ third victory in their last four games after starting NEC play with a (1-10) record.
The Terriers now improve to (7-19, 4-11 NEC), and with three games remaining; they now sit one-game out of a potential playoff spot in the NEC post-season.
Senior guard Leah Fechko broke the 20-point plateau for the eighth time this season, finishing with a team-high 20 points or the game, and she also added five rebounds and five assists in a full 45 minutes of work.
The Terriers also received a significant boost from freshman standout Maria Palarino, who put forth an outstanding effort in her return to her home state of Pennsylvania. The 5-foot-10 forward poured in 18 points and collected a team-high nine rebounds, both of which are career highs.
Fechko and Palarino shot a combined 13-of-19 (68.4%) from the floor. Sophomore forward Alex Delaney also played a big part in the victory, coming away with 11 points and seven assists.
Early in today’s contest, the Colonials led 15-10 after the first quarter, ending with a 7-2 run.
With 3:08 to go in the second quarter the Colonials maintained control of the game, leading 24-17, and looking stronger as the today’s affair inched closer to halftime. This time around, it was the Terriers who ended the half with a big run, outscoring the Colonials 8-2 in the quarter’s final three minutes.
After entering the halfway point with a narrow 26-25 advantage, the two teams underwent several lead changes, leading to an eventual 42-42 tie heading into the fourth.
With 1:21 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Terriers held a 55-51 lead after a mid-range jumper from Fechko. The Colonials didn’t answer the bucket until a lay-up from Megan Smith was good with even seconds to go, thus cutting the Terrier lead to two.
After two missed free throws from Delaney, the Colonials pushed the ball up the floor with about six seconds left to work. With about three seconds left, Janee Brown was able to penetrate the Terrier defense and find an open Joelynne Jones for the game-tying lay-up as time expired, sending the game into overtime at 55 apiece.
In OT, it was all Terriers from the jump, as they never trailed in the extra period. The John Thurston led squad outscored the Colonials 17-10 in overtime en route to a 72-65 victory.
Throughout the afternoon, the Terriers posted efficient shooting numbers across the board, finishing with 44.0% shooting from the floor, 54.5% from three, and 71.0% from the foul line.
The Terriers also picked up the win despite only leading for 30.3% of the action. Neither team led by double-digits either, as the Terriers held the largest lead of the game while ahead of RMU 70-62 late in OT.
Freshman guard Kat Phipps finished with nine points and four rebounds for the Terriers. Six of her nine points came at the free throw line, where she shot a perfect 6-for-6. Sophomore forward Cassidy Derda added seven points and eight rebounds in the victory. Derda also made her presence felt defensively, adusting Colonial interior shots all game long, and ultimately finishing with two blocks.
Colonial leading scorer A Niki Stamolaprou finished with a team-high 14 points in the loss. The junior guard collected 12 of her 14 from beyond the arc, knocking in 4-of-10 (40%) from three-point range.
The aforementioned Smith capped off her afternoon with 11 points and and eight rebounds in 36 minutes of action.
Now with an eye on the playoffs, the Terriers are looking to keep the ball rolling Monday night, where they’ll travel to Lorreto, Pennsylvania for a match-up with Saint Francis University.