Franciscan University women’s basketball team held off a fourth quarter surge by La Roche College, the no. 1 team in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, upsetting the Redhawks with a final score of 76-69 on Monday.
The seven-point win also marks the first time in program history that the Lady Barons have defeated La Roche.
“Today was a great program win,” Head Coach Suzy Delaney said. “Franciscan has been fielding teams in basketball for years, but this group has stuck together with a core of 11 girls returning this season. I’m just really proud of all 14 of our ladies tonight and how each of them contributed to this win.”
Franciscan came out of the gate unfazed by the task of playing the top team in the conference and held La Roche scoreless for the first 4:28 of the game before the reigning AMCC Player of the Week, Redhawk guard Sabrina McLin, got her team on the board. McLin scored eight of La Roche’s 10 points in the quarter and the Redhawks only trailed by three after the first 10 minutes.
The Lady Barons continued to build their lead in the second quarter with production coming from six different players in the quarter. With 1:28 remaining before halftime, three baskets from senior guards Iliana Gonzales and Monica Dawyot sent Franciscan into the locker room with a 10-point lead.
Seven seconds into the second half, sophomore forward Bernadette Roach made a layup to put the Lady Barons up by 12 while McLin made a layup to bring it back to a 10-point lead. The rest of the third quarter continued in the same fashion as both teams traded baskets while Franciscan maintained a double-digit lead.
La Roche was not going down without a fight and opened up the fourth quarter with a 15-4 run over the first 4:23 of the quarter, cutting the Lady Barons lead from 13 points down to two. Sophomore Lucia Westrick made a layup to put the Lady Barons back up by four points but La Roche answered with five points to take its only lead of the game, 67-66, with 3:44 remaining in the game.
Westrick quickly and calmly regained the lead for the Lady Barons by making two free throws with 3:32 left in the game. McLin scored the last of her game-leading 33 points, hitting two free throws with 30 seconds remaining to bring the Redhawks within three. However, Gonzales and sophomore guard Sarah Schriner were clutch at the charity stripe, sinking four free throws to seal the win.
Gonzales led the Lady Barons with 28 points while Schriner contributed 16 points and Westrick added 11. The Lady Barons also won the rebounding battle 37-29 and committed five fewer turnovers than the Redhawks.
With the first half of conference play finished, the Lady Barons sit in a tie for sixth place with Hilbert College as both teams hold a 4-5 record in the AMCC. Franciscan is seeking its second appearance in the conference tournament with nine games left on the schedule. At the end of the regular season, the top six teams advance to the AMCC tournament.
The Lady Barons will seek their fourth straight win on the road against Mount Aloysius College on Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. The Mounties emerged victorious in the two teams’ first meeting, beating Franciscan on the Lady Barons’ home court, 65-42, in December.