Northwestern Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZLeighanna Lister had 17 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocked shots in Tuesday’s game against Notre Dame (Green Pond). PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZLeighanna Lister had 17 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocked shots in Tuesday’s game against Notre Dame (Green Pond).

Girls fall to NDGP

Thursday, January 19, 2017 by CJ HEMERLY Special to the Press in Sports

Despite a late comeback, the Lady Tigers came up just short of beating Notre Dame (Green Pond) Tuesday in New Tripoli, falling 45-44 to the Crusaders.

“We waited until the very end to have urgency,” said assistant coach Craig Mogel, coaching for Chris Deutsch who was out with an illness. “We preach all the time that you need to be ready from the beginning and play like you really want to win.

“In the last two minutes of the game, we decided to play our basketball, and we made a great run at the end. But when you have to make runs at the end of the game and come from behind, it gets tough because you waste so much energy getting there.”

Freshmen guard Sydney Sevrain drilled two straight three-pointers after missing her first seven shots from the field to bring Northwestern’s deficit to two. Then Abigail Chisdak tied the game with 12 seconds left, but the Crusaders’ Cailee Murphy was fouled on the ensuing possession and hit 1-of-2 from the line to give the victory.

The Tigers (7-4 overall, 4-4 CL) were down by as much as nine in the fourth quarter, and eight midway through the final frame, but battled all the way back. An offensive rebound from Murphy led to the foul and game-winning.

In a game that featured five ties and 12 lead changes, the teams traded baskets for most of the first half.

The Crusaders (8-2, 5-1) led by two after the first and second quarters, but did not have an answer for Leighanna Lister. The junior forward tallied 17 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocks. She had 13 of her 17 points in the first half, and kept Northwestern within a basket at halftime, trailing 25-23.

“Leighanna had a heck of a game,” Mogel said. “She was getting a lot of physical pressure on her, but she battled. She did everything for us down there. It was one of the best individual performances I’ve seen in a long time. She gave it all she had.”

Jess Williamson made a free throw to put the Tigers ahead 26-25 early in the third, but that was the last time they led. Notre Dame finished the quarter on a 12-4 run to take a 37-30 advantage after three.

Tori Esposito’s jumper gave the Crusaders their biggest lead of the game at nine just a few seconds into the fourth quarter, but Northwestern wouldn’t go away.

The Tigers turned up the pressure on the defensive end and forced some turnovers that helped cut into the deficit.

Down 40-32, Lister grabbed an offensive board and followed up with a layup. Then after a missed shot by the Crusaders, Sevrain connected from long range. With a 44-39 score, Sevrain drained her second three-pointer with 1:05 to go.

“It was big for her to come in and hit those threes,” said Mogel. “We set both of those plays up for her in the corner, and she hit some big shots for us. For a freshmen to step up like that, that was big for her confidence.”

The Tigers’ last-second heave at the buzzer went wide and the Crusaders were able to squeak by.

“It’s always hard coming into this gym and getting a win,” said Notre Dame head coach Josh Kopp. “Both teams gave it their all tonight, and it was a great game. You could tell that we all wanted this one badly, and it helped in the standings with seedings for playoffs coming up.”

Notre Dame is one game behind Bangor in the East division, and Northwestern is now four games behind Southern Lehigh, with Moravian Academy (6-1) and Salisbury (4-3) just ahead of the Tigers.