Anyone who thought St. Mary's may have lacked incentive against the Institute of Notre Dame in yesterday's Catholic League tournament championship game must have forgotten the previous three tournament finals.
St. Mary's senior and four-year starter Randall Goldsborough certainly hasn't forgotten that the Saints lost to Seton Keough in the championship game three consecutive years.
Goldsborough scored a team-high 13 points to help the sixth-ranked Saints (23-3) to a hard-fought 51-47 victory over ninth-ranked IND (18-5) at the College of Notre Dame.
Although St. Mary's had already gained a berth in Sunday's Metro Classic at the Baltimore Arena against City-Wide champion Walbrook by winning the Catholic League regular-season title, Goldsborough said she felt the Saints had something to prove.
"We're sick of being second," Goldsborough said. "This really means a lot to my senior class. It's a big relief for me because I wouldn't have another chance."
IND seemed determined to add to the Saints' championship-game frustration.
Led by senior guard Melanie Vogel (19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists) and junior forward Kenya McIntyre (14 points, six rebounds, three charges taken), the Indians held one-point leads at halftime and after three quarters.
The Indians took their last lead, 43-42, on Vogel's three-pointer with 4:33 remaining. Goldsborough answered with a three-pointer with 3:52 left to put St. Mary's ahead to stay, 45-43.
Sophomore point guard Bridget Smith (six points) sealed the Saints' win by converting both ends of a one-and-one with 23 seconds left. IND missed two shots on its final possession as time expired.
Overall, there were 14 lead changes and eight ties.
"We just missed too many shots in the fourth quarter," said IND coach Jerry Hahn, whose team dealt St. Mary's its only league loss on Jan. 28. "But I'm real proud. We beat St. Mary's in Annapolis. We beat Mercy two out of three. And we beat Walbrook. That's pretty good."
IND established an up-tempo game from the outset, taking a 5-2 lead in the first 1:06 and stretching its lead to 11-6.
"We just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter," Hahn said.
St. Mary's got a lift from its bench, specifically Jen Segree (nine points, eight in the second half) and Kristin Flewelling (four points, four rebounds, one blocked shot), after Goldsborough and senior Amelia Mikula (six points, 15 rebounds) each picked up her third foul in the first half.
St. Mary's first-year coach Harry Dobson said he began the second half with Goldsborough and Mikula on the bench in an effort to "just buy some time." The two starters came back midway through the third quarter with IND leading 34-32.
"I knew IND would get tired," Dobson. "I felt we were in better condition at the end. We didn't even start to play good defense until the fourth quarter.
"We were a little tight to start, I think because we've never been in this position [as the favorites] before."
In the third-place game, senior guard Stephanie Rohe scored 26 to lead No. 8 Mercy (19-5) to a 66-32 rout of Seton Keough (9-14).