WILKES-BARRE -- Wilkes, Elena Stambone in particular, had the hot hand. The Lady Colonels had fired back to pull within five of Misericordia at halftime, looking to take control out of the break.
Misericordia wouldn't let it happen.
The Cougars came back on the court and quickly drained Wilkes' momentum, holding the Lady Colonels scoreless for the opening 4:30 of the half.Wilkes never grabbed the lead and Misericordia picked up an important road win, beating the Lady Colonels 62-45 on Wednesday at the Marts Center.
With the victory, Misericordia snapped a five-game Freedom Conference losing streak to climb back into the the middle of the postseason picture. The Cougars (10-9, 4-5) pulled even with Eastern for the fourth and final playoff spot with five games still to play.
It started with that opening defensive stand in the second half.
We've struggled a little bit all year (with playing an up-tempo system) and then coming out a bit flat after 20 minutes of great intensity in the first half, Cougars coach Allison Kern said. So I think this was really big for us -- especially as we're growing and moving forward -- to come out and sustain intensity for 40 minutes.
Wilkes clawed back within five on two more occasions but could never make it a one-possession game.
Misericordia held Stambone to just three points after halftime after the league's leading scorer had 12 in the first half to cut Wilkes' deficit to 29-24 at the break.
We're trying to play good team defense, Kern said. We know that she's a good player, but they also have a lot of good players that can get hot. It was about our communication and knowing where she was coming off of screens and five kids executing the gameplan.
Lauren Smicherko (15 points), Kayla Sileo (14), Hannah Seely (11) and Tyann McDaniel (10) helped the Cougars pull away in the final five minutes, stretching the lead back to double digits.
For Wilkes, it was a fifth straight loss in league play, keeping the Lady Colonels (10-9, 2-7) two games out headed into the final two weeks of the regular season.
Stambone (15 points) was the only player to hit double figures for Wilkes. Lindsey Chester added six points and a game-high 10 rebounds off the bench.
Misericordia reinserted Caitlin Kessler into the starting lineup in place of Sam Baro. The sophomore helped set the tone right from the start, pulling down an offensive rebound for a putback on the Cougars' first possession.
Her teammates followed her lead as early on as the Cougars attacked the rim and led by as many as 13 in the first half. Leading the way was Smicherko, who scored 10 in the opening frame by consistently beating defenders off the dribble.
Wilkes, however, heated up shortly before halftime as Stambone hit three straight jumpers, including a pair of threes. Megan Kazmerski added a three-pointer of her own in the final minute and Wilkes had some life.Just not enough to finish a comeback.
We've been in a little bit of a slump lately mentally, which transferred out on the court, Kern said. But I think we're really bouncing back, getting back to the things we do well.
MISERICORDIA (62): Tyann McDaniel 4-11 0-0 10, Hannah Seely 4-9 3-4 11, Caitlin Kessler 2-5 0-0 4, Lauren Smicherko 4-14 7-8 15, Nikki Baro 2-3 0-0 4, Lisa Kintner 0-4 0-0 0, Sam Baro 0-1 2-3 2, Kayla Sileo 6-12 2-2 14, Kristen Hansen 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 23-65 14-17 62.
WILKES (45): Amanda Pawlowski 1-1 0-0 3, Elena Stambone 6-24 0-1 15, Megan Kazmerski 2-9 1-2 7, Chelsea Brown 2-9 2-6 6, Ellen Rich 1-7 0-0 2, Kayla Brahm 1-1 0-0 2, Cara Basile 1-3 0-0 2, Lindsey Chester 2-9 2-6 6, Jana Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Angela Palmerio 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Dragan 1-1 0-0 2, Ginny Edwards 0-5 0-2 0. Totals 17-69 5-17 45.
Halftime-- Misericordia, 29-24
3-point field goals-- MU 2-10 (McDaniel 2-4, Smicherko 0-3, Hansen 0-3); WU 6-22 (Stambone 3-11, Kazmerski 2-8, Pawlowski 1-1, Basile 0-1, Chester 0-1)
Senior Celia Rader scored the 1,000 point of her career as King's defeated visiting Eastern.
Rader didn't need much to hit her plateau Wednesday night, finishing the game with nine points. Katlin Michaels flirted with a triple-double, totaling 26 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds while Molly Dahl notched 19 points.
Four different Monarchs reached double digits in points as King's picked up a win at home.
Kyle Hammonds and Matt Fiorino eached scored 16 points, while Connor Hughes added 11 and Joe Caffrey scored 10.
Jamie Scarantino, DeMarquis Holley, Tommy Desir, Ahmed Burton and Peter Dwyer all scored wins by decision in the Monarchs' loss at Oneonta.