PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The La Roche College women's basketball team (17-4, 12-2) overcame a slow start to defeat Pitt-Bradford (12-9, 8-6) 65-54 and avenge an early-season loss to the Panthers Saturday afternoon in the Kerr Fitness Center.
The tone was set early, with both teams exchanging blows and playing physical defense in the opening minutes. Casie Cygan sparked an 11-6 run to break a six-all tie at the 12:00 mark of the first half with a hustling offense rebound and putback and three pointer on the ensuing possession. LaShauna Brothers capped the run with a fast break lay up to put La Roche up 17-12.
The Panthers held the Lady Redhawks without a point for nearly five minutes as they surged ahead to take an 18-17 lead at the 3:48 mark. Bradford hit a jumper at the buzzer to break a 21-21 tie and send the visitors into the break with a 23-21 edge.
Each team shot less than 30% and combined for 15 turnovers in the low-scoring opening frame.
The Lady Redhawks forced four consecutive turnovers to open the second half, but were unable to convert, as they were held scoreless for over four minutes. Bradford cushioned their lead with a 6-0 run before Mackenzie O'Donnell scored the first points of the half for La Roche on a pair of free throws at the 15:55 mark.
The Lady Redhawks strengthened their grip inside and gained momentum behind the post presence of Brothers and O'Donnell. Trailing 35-27, O'Donnell converted from the left block to bring La Roche within six. A steal and fast break lay up by Shataya White closed the gap to 35-31. A conventional three-point play from Bradford put the Panthers up 38-31, before Sabrina McLin answered with a three on the opposite end. After O'Donnell connected from close range, McLin dropped a pair from the charity stripe to knot the game at 38-38. On the ensuing possession, Brothers scored on a tough post move to give La Roche its first lead of the half. Another McLin three and a pair of fast break run outs capped a 20-5 run to give the Lady Redhawks a 47-40 lead with 7:55 remaining.
Bradford responded with a modest 6-0 run to creep within a point, before La Roche countered with an impressive 14-0 run to take a commanding 61-48 lead with 2:10 left on the clock.
The Lady Redhawks shot a scorching 57% (17-30) from the field and outscored the Panthers 44-31 in the second half to record the 65-54 win.
Brothers scored a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds to pace the La Roche offense. Cygan added 14 points and seven rebounds, while O'Donnell and McLin each scored 10 points.
With the win, La Roche improves to 12-2 in the AMCC and stays atop the standings with Medaille. The loss drops Bradford to 8-6 in the AMCC.
The Lady Redhawks return to AMCC action Wednesday, February 12 at Medaille. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Bachri.