Sam Hismeh sinks three free throws to give Mepham girls win
Two television crews, a capacity crowd and three free-throw attempts to tie the score and win the game on the road.
Someone forgot to tell Mepham's Sam Hismeh she was under pressure.
Hismeh got to the line and knocked down all three free throws with two seconds left, giving Mepham a 50-49 win over Herricks Tuesday night to take sole possession of first place in Nassau Conference AA-III.
After host Herricks had stormed back with a 24-6 run in the fourth quarter to take a two-point lead over Mepham, Hismeh was fouled attempting a three-pointer with two seconds left.
"I didn't even realize there were fans out here. It just felt like I was in my backyard. It was great," Hismeh said. "I just focused on all the practice I had and I was able to overcome the pressure. It's incredible. It's unreal."
Tuesday night's game mirrored the first meeting between these teams on Jan. 8 at Mepham, in which the Pirates held off another double-digit-fourth-quarter comeback from Herricks to win the game on a three-quarter-court buzzer beater by Ally Murphy.
Hismeh said she remembered that game as she stepped to the line.
"We didn't want to let them back in it but it was exactly the same as last time," Hismeh said. "We won last time with a half-court shot and after the game, Ally was beyond excited. So this time, I said to myself, 'it's my turn', and I didn't want to let my teammates down and I stepped up."
Mepham (13-2, 11-1) led 39-25 after three quarters Tuesday night, thanks to the sharp perimeter shooting of Mary Galgano (14 points) and the aggressiveness of Nicole Castaldo (12 points).
But Alison Ricchiuti and Erin Rivera led a Herricks charge in the fourth quarter. Ricchiuti scored 16 of her 28 points in the fourth and Rivera had 18 points in the game and created multiple turnovers in the period to spark a 14-0 run.
Ricchiuti gave Herricks (12-3, 10-2) a 48-47 lead on a free throw with 17 seconds left, and extended that lead to 49-47 with another foul shot with 10 seconds to go. Hismeh was fouled from behind when she pulled up from the right wing beyond the three-point arc, after Castaldo passed the ball over the half-court line under pressure.
"It was intense," Galgano said. "I know I wouldn't have been able to do what [Hismeh] did."