Last updated: February 20. 2013 4:48AM - 633 Views

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DALLAS — It got to the point where Misericordia's bench was standing as each shot went up. The Cougars' confidence had been building and the entire team was feeling it.

Players and coaches alike could sense what was coming – arguably the Cougars' most satisfying win of the season.

Misericordia turned in a strong second half to knock off first-place DeSales 66-55 on Saturday at the Anderson Center to stay in the hunt for the top seed in the Freedom Conference tournament.

The Cougars (11-10, 7-3) split the season series with the Bulldogs and pulled within a game of both DeSales and Delaware Valley for first with four games left to play.

It was a much-needed shot in the arm for the Cougars, who squandered a second-half lead three days earlier in a tough loss at Wilkes.

Back home at the Anderson Center, there was no letdown this time.

It was a great win for our guys. We needed it, Misericordia coach Trevor Woodruff said. We're a little depleted, guys are sick and it took everybody. Everybody just did a little bit extra, it wasn't any one guy in particular, and that was the story.

I'm really happy for our guys. They could have easily packed it in (after Wednesday) and they didn't.

Far from it. Misericordia shot a scorching 73 percent from the field (16-for-22) in the second half and never let the Bulldogs get on track in the final 20 minutes.

Steve Ware (22 points, nine rebounds), Joe Busacca (20 points) and Justin Grotevant (14 points) provided the bulk of the offense. Just as important, the defense held the league's highest scoring offense to nearly 20 points below its season average.

For the Bulldogs (16-5, 8-2), it was a second straight conference loss after opening up 8-0. DeSales couldn't slow down Misericordia in the second half as it saw a three-point halftime deficit quickly balloon up to nine and then 14.

Ware closed it out with some flare, throwing down a one-handed slam – his third dunk of the afternoon – with a minute left to play.

I think over 40 minutes that's as well as we've played in a while, Woodruff said. Even at the half I thought we had played pretty decently. A couple mental mistakes, but nothing major. And the guys just did a good job of continuing to grind. Because (DeSales) is the kind of team that never really goes away.


DeSALES (55): Mike Coleman 1-5 4-7 6, Michael Guldin 1-3 2-2 4, Paul Pammer 3-10 0-0 6, Andrew Kohler 1-3 1-2 4, Brett Moyer 7-13 1-3 15, Kyle Hash 0-3 0-0 0, Ryan Griffin 1-2 1-2 4, Jake Hungarter 0-4 0-0 0, Derek Dalition 0-0 0-0 0, Cody Deal 2-6 0-0 5, Travis Bryan 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Poorman 0-0 0-0 0, Greg Peters 3-3 5-5 11. Totals 19-52 14-21 55.

MISERICORDIA (66): Sean Bieski 0-1 1-2 1, Jesse Urich 1-3 0-0 2, Matt Greene 0-3 0-0 0, Steve Ware 10-15 2-2 22, Justin Grotevant 7-8 0-0 14, Joe Busacca 8-12 3-7 20, Anthony Sergio 1-6 0-0 3, Patrick Widdoss 2-4 0-0 4, Brandon Stone 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-52 6-11 66.

Halftime— Misericordia, 32-29

3-point field goals— DSU 3-14 (Griffin 1-1, Kohler 1-2, Deal 1-5, Pammer 0-3, Hungarter 0-3); MU 2-12 (Busacca 1-2, Sergio 1-6, Urich 0-1, Greene 0-3)

Women stifled by Bulldogs

Misericordia had snapped the DeSales women's run of four straight Freedom Conference title game appearances last season. This year the Bulldogs are doing their best to keep the Cougars out of the postseason entirely.

DeSales held Misericordia to 20 points in the second half on Saturday, pulling away for a 64-45 win at the Anderson Center. The Bulldogs earned a sweep of the season series after losing to the Cougars in the conference semifinals a year ago.

Down just four at halftime, Misericordia (10-10, 4-6 Freedom) couldn't get anything going in the second as DeSales used runs of 14-4 and 15-0 to drain away any potential drama.

We just come out flat in the second half, Cougars coach Allison Kern said. We've got to figure out a way to put two halves of energy together.

Junior guard Lauren Smicherko scored a game-high 22 points, but was the only Misericordia player in double figures. DeSales held veterans Tyann McDaniel and Hannah Seely to just two points apiece.

Neither side could settle into a rhythm in the first half as the teams combined for a surprising 28 turnovers, with Misericordia committing 16. The Cougars had 25 for the game.

DeSales (15-6, 7-3) erased an early Cougars lead with a 12-0 run and never trailed from there despite Misericordia pulling even twice.

I thought defensively in the first half we played great – we were getting after them and doing what we do, Kern said. And then we just come out (for the second half) and just look like zombies for the first three minutes and they jump out on us.

We've got to figure out how to come out with more fire.

Despite the loss, Misericordia remained tied for the fourth and final playoff spot thanks to Eastern's loss at Delaware Valley.


DeSALES (64): Alexiah Grant 6-17 3-6 15, Taylor Greene 2-3 3-4 7, Sondrine Glovas 3-8 0-0 6, Megan Gallagher 2-2 1-3 5, Colleen Gavin 6-11 0-0 12, Faith Gilbert 4-9 0-0 10, Alex Suk 0-3 1-2 1, Gabby Scott 1-3 0-0 2, Mikelyn Mackavage 0-0 1-2 1, Kati Gehring 0-0 0-0 0, Jen Napolitano 0-1 0-0 0, Julia Duffy 1-4 1-2 3, Brittany Pierzga 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 26-63 10-19 64.

MISERICORDIA (45): Tyann McDaniel 1-5 0-0 2, Hannah Seely 1-5 0-0 2, Caitlin Kessler 1-5 0-0 2, Lauren Smicherko 6-14 10-11 22, Nikki Baro 0-2 6-6 6, Lisa Kintner 0-1 0-0 0, Sam Baro 0-1 0-0 0, Kayla Sileo 3-10 2-2 8, Lauren Oertner 0-0 0-0 0, Kristen Hansen 0-2 0-2 0, Robin O'Dell 0-1 3-4 3. Totals 12-46 21-25.

Halftime— DeSales, 29-25

3-point field goals— DSU 2-8 (GIlbert 2-3, Grant 0-1, Glovas 0-1, Scott 0-1, Napolitano 0-1, Duffy 0-1); MU 0-5 (Hansen 0-1, McDaniel 0-2, Sileo 0-2)

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