Two contrasting styles were at play in the Long Island Lutheran-St. Mary's game this afternoon. LIL tried to pound it into the post to the 6-3 Jessica DeNicola as much as possible to exploit the size advantage, while St. Mary's continually hoisted up shots from three-point range.
Each team had success at times, but in the end Lutheran pulled out a 60-59 win over St. Mary's in overtime. DeNicola had a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds. She went 12-for-20 from the field. She scored on a putback with four seconds left for the winning basket.
"Jess was big," LIL coach Rich Slater said. "Jess has been awesome. Her hands have improved, her footwork has improved. She’s finishing. She’s becoming a leader on the team. She’s fit in the puzzle just great.They had a difficult time matching up with us. We kept imploring to get the ball in the middle."
St. Mary's inbounded the ball with 3.9 seconds left from its own end and never got off a shot.
"We had a shot," St. Mary's coach Tom Flynn said. "We looked to make one more pass. We came back nice at the end of regulation."
DeNicola had foru points in overtime and Sam Milhaven came up big for Lutheran with five of her 13 points, along with an assist to DeNicola.
St. Mary's shot 13-for-40 from three-point range. Shannon Flynn (25 points) hit five three-pointer and Maddie Jankowski (21 points) hit six three-pointers.
LIL led 51-46 with 2:20 left in regulation and Flynn scored on a layup and hit a three-pointer with 26 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 51. She didn't take a shot in the extra session.
"Our matchup zone towards the end was big," Slater said. "We knew where Flynn and Jankowski were."
"We realized we needed to get out on the shooters," Milhaven said. "We needed to be smart on offense and know when to bang it down to Jess and when to shoot a three."
St. Mary's led 30-26 at the half. Lutheran opened the second half with an 8-0 run to take a 34-30 lead. Flynn scored on a pass from Jankowski to give St. Mary's a 37-36 lead with 3:08 left in the third. They led until Christina Raiti (10 points) hit a three to give LIL a 45-43 lead with 6:05 left in the fourth. Jankowski answered back with a three-pointer to give the Gaels a 46-45 lead. LIL then went on a 6-0 run.
"We were a little worried about the defense," DeNicola said. "We threw some man and zone against them. It’s hard to play against five guards when we’re the opposite type of team."
LIL lost point guard Taylor Brown to a torn ACL in early January, but have played well in her absence and will make another run at the Class B Federation title.
"We’re holding it together," Milhaven said. "Paige [Kriftcher] is doing a tremendous job as a point guard. Raiti and [Sam] Plunkett are doing a good job, too at the point."
St. Mary's will host Holy Trinity in a CHSAA first-round game Wednesday.
"It was a good game," Tom Flynn said. "We have nothing to hang our heads about, but we have to learn how to win when we're ahead. We have to learn how to close a game out with a lead."