WILKES-BARRE — Trevor Woodruff knew he had to settle his team down before overtime began. But the Misericordia coach had someone else to work on before that.
“Yeah, myself first,” Woodruff said. “Because your team, a lot of times, follows your lead as a coach. And I know that. And sometimes I’m not good at controlling that. But we tried to refocus.”
Misericordia shook off a late King’s basket that forced overtime to pull out a 71-66 win Wednesday night at Scandlon Gymnasium.
Junior forward Steve Ware had all three of Misericordia’s buckets in the extra frame to deliver the Cougars (11-7, 5-2 Freedom Conference) their sixth straight win.
Ware finished with a game-high 26 points, followed by 14 from Matt Greene and 11 by Joe Busacca.
A pair of beautiful passes into the post put the game into overtime.
The first came with 1:04 to play to break a 56-56 tie. Greene drove baseline before dishing to Ware in the paint for the bucket and the foul.
The second tied it up at the other end as King’s senior Joe Caffrey made a pinpoint strike to Tom Heston down low to make it 60-60 with six seconds left.
Woodruff was upset because a freshman missed a defensive assignment that helped free up Heston for the critical layup.
“When you come out of a timeout in the last possession of the game with the lead,” Woodruff said, “and you say, ‘Fellas — switch every single screen.’ And your players don’t? And the other team shoots a layup? You look for the Market Street Bridge.”
No need to jump tonight, however.
Ware scored three times in the post in overtime, including a nice spin off of a defender to break a 64-64 tie.
Busacca added a free throw and Misericordia quickly fouled with a three-point lead to take away a potential tying three for the Monarchs.
Dan Rutecki hit both shots at the other end for King’s to cut the deficit to 67-66 with 5.7 seconds left.
King’s, however, was forced to foul Greene, one of the country’s top free-throw shooters after that. Greene hit both to make it 69-66.
Misericordia again fouled after the inbound. The Monarchs missed both shots to end their comeback hopes.
“We went to (Ware) because we were really at a loss of where else to go,” Woodruff said. “He’s a good option, there’s no question. And tonight he was the guy for us.”
The Monarchs, meanwhile, were missing their go-to guy in Kyle Hammonds.
The senior guard, who leads the league in scoring at 19.2 points per game, sprained an ankle during Saturday’s loss at Manhattanville.
Hammonds was in street clothes for warmups Wednesday with a boot on his right foot. Nate Oliver took his spot in the starting five.
The injury is not expected to keep Hammonds out long-term.
“They tested him today and he wasn’t ready,” King’s coach J.P. Andrejko said. “He wanted to try to push it because he just wants to play. But this is one game. I said we have seven more after this that are just as important. We need to get him healthy.”
Andrejko said he was pleased to see Hammonds’ teammates pick up the slack against the first-place Cougars.
Freshman Dan Rutecki led the Monarchs (10-8, 3-4) with 22 points and nine rebounds while Caffrey picked up a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards.
“I’m really proud of them,” Andrejko said. “They came out, and we did what we wanted to do. I thought we executed what we wanted to. Offensively, we were getting the ball in places that we had talked about.
“Unfortunately, we just didn’t make shots.”
MISERICORDIA (71) — Joe Busacca 2-10 7-10 11, Matt Greene 4-10 2-2 14, Griffin Sponaugle 2-5 2-4 7, Steve Ware 11-21 4-5 26, Erik Kerns 3-6 2-2 8, Anthony Sergio 0-1 0-0 0, Patrick Widdoss 2-3 0-0 4, Cael Evans 0-3 1-2 1. Totals 24-59 18-25 71.
KING’S (66) — Nate Oliver 2-12 2-4 7, Alex Cardoza 2-4 0-0 4, Joe Caffrey 7-15 1-2 19, Tom Heston 2-6 2-2 6, Dan Rutecki 8-16 6-6 22, Rich Douglas 0-0 0-2 0, Connor Hughes 0-1 0-0 0, Tim O’Shea 0-3 0-0 0, Mike Foster 0-4 0-0 0, John Dini 0-0 0-0 0, Pat O’Donnell 2-2 4-4 8. Totals 23-63 15-20 66.
Halftime — Misericordia, 32-30; Regulation — Tied, 60-60
Three-point field goals — MU 5-15 (Greene 4-9, Sponaugle 1-3, Sergio 0-1, Busacca 0-2); KC 5-23 (Caffrey 4-9, Oliver 1-10, Hughes 0-1, Foster 0-3)