DALLAS — Nothing would fall for Misericordia. Wilkes made sure the Cougars paid for it.
The Lady Colonels held Misericordia to just 17 second-half points for a 66-52 win Thursday at the Anderson Center.
Misericordia went without a field goal for the first 8:25 after halftime and a three-point lead at the break turned into a double-digit deficit.
“I think that was probably our best defensive half we’ve had all year so far,” Wilkes coach Chris Heery said. “We forced them to take some tough shots and we didn’t give up a lot of second shots in the second half.”
Wilkes’ Elena Stambone scored 26 to lead all players and Ellen Rich helped lead the defensive stand to earn a split of the season series with the Cougars.
Rich (10 points) had one of her top performances of the season for the Lady Colonels (5-14, 2-7 Freedom), racking up game-highs in rebounds (14) and blocks (seven) against a Misericordia team that likes to work inside.
“She’s a key. You can look at our stats and when Ellen has a great game, we always seem to be right in it or winning,” Heery said. “We need big games from her for sure.”
She also hit a pair of key jumpers, scoring five straight points after the Cougars had cut the deficit to six. They never got any closer.
Not helping matters for the Cougars (7-12, 3-6) was some early foul trouble for leading scorer Hannah Seely. She played just nine minutes in the first half after picking up her second foul and was whistled for a third in the first minute of the second.
With fellow starter Nikki Baro also saddled with three fouls, Wilkes was able to go on the attack.
“We went more aggressive,” Heery said. “We didn’t change anything other than just going at them a little harder.”
Sam Baro (team-high 16 points) hit a late three to cap off a first half that featured six lead changes to give the Cougars a 35-32 lead at the break.
Senior guard Katie Drayton helped settle the Cougars down, racking up seven assists before the break.
Stambone and Chelsea Brown (15 points, 10 rebounds) combined for 24 of the Lady Colonels’ 32 points in the first.
It was a balanced effort that gave Wilkes the lead for good with a 15-1 run to open the second.
Wilkes was able to build a 47-36 lead before Seely returned to the court. It was Justine Seely who broke the field-goal drought with a putback at the 11:35 mark.
Misericordia finished 21-of-71 from the floor and was 6-of-39 in the second. Wilkes knocked down 6-of-12 from behind the arc with Stambone going 5-of-9 from long range.
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WILKES (66) — Kayla Brahm 1-2 2-2 5, Elena Stambone 9-18 3-6 26, Chelsea Brown 5-10 5-10 15, Ginny Edwards 0-1 1-2 1, Ellen Rich 3-6 4-6 10, Kate Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Cara Basile 0-1 0-0 0, Chelsea Smelas 3-8 1-2 7, Missy Oertner 1-1 0-0 2, Haley Mesaros 0-1 0-0 0, Megan Dragan 0-0 0-0 0, Brianna Smarkusky 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-48 16-28 66.
MISERICORDIA (52) — Hannah Seely 1-7 1-2 3, Katie Drayton 3-9 1-2 7, Justine Seely 3-12 3-5 9, Sam Baro 6-19 0-2 16, Nikki Baro 3-12 0-2 6, Shannon Croasdale 4-8 0-0 9, Amanda Greene 0-2 0-0 0, Lauren Oertner 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 21-71 5-13 52.
Halftime — Misericordia, 35-32
Three-point field goals — WU 6-12 (Stambone 5-9, Brahm 1-2, Mesaros 0-1); MU 5-15 (S. Baro 4-14, Croasdale 1-1)