Gators stop Saints, take 54-53 win

January 12, 1995|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

Melanie Morris had the skill to contain one of the Catholic League's better players, the poise to make two critical free throws, and the luck to avoid being burned by an untimely foul.

And in the end, she had one of her biggest wins since coming to Seton Keough, scoring 22 points to lead the 10th-ranked Gators past No. 8 St. Mary's, 54-53, in Annapolis.

Morris, a 5-foot-7 junior, hit twice from the line with 14 seconds remaining for a 54-51 lead. She then fouled Kris Miller as the Saints' guard attempted a shot from beyond the arc with three seconds left, giving her a chance to tie the game.

Miller's first shot struck the rim. She made the next two, though coach Harry Dobson had instructed her to miss the last one in hopes that St. Mary's would score off the rebound.

It was that kind of day for the Saints (9-6, 2-3), who trailed after each of the first three quarters, but went ahead, 43-41 on two free throws by junior Tara Foran with 4:43 left. A fall-away jumper by Jen Manning extended the lead to 45-41, but Morris made a three-point play, and the Gators eventually moved back in front, 52-51, on two free throws by Meghann Donovan with 35 seconds remaining.

Donovan blocked a shot by Foran, and the ensuing jump ball was awarded to Seton Keough (11-1, 5-1). Morris was fouled by Tiffany Schummer and made both free throws, giving the Gators their first victory over St. Mary's in four years.

"We have a bunch of hard-nosed kids and they don't back down from anybody," said first-year coach Jim Stromberg, who had been an assistant at Mount Hebron for the past 14 years. "There may be teams that are better, but they keep battling and scrapping. That's the best quality of this team."

Morris' heroics included holding Foran to six points, 10 below her season's average. Foran also came in averaging around 10 rebounds, but she ended up with just two, as the entire St. Mary's team struggled to keep Seton Keough off the boards.

"I didn't mind guarding Tara," said Morris, an AAU teammate of Foran's during the summer with the Chesapeake Bay Hurricanes. "We're friends and it's a nice little rivalry."

Senior Annetta Davis, in her first game back after missing the last two, led the Saints with 21 points and nine rebounds, but she sat out the entire third quarter because of foul trouble. She picked up her fourth with 6:25 left in the game, and fouled out with 1:19 showing.

When Davis went to the bench for good, St. Mary's held a 51-48 lead. She had scored their last six points.

"They're a very good team. We knew that, and we knew we were going to have to play really hard, but we just came up short," Dobson said.

Miller had 12 points, including eight from the line. Donovan had nine points and 10 rebounds.

St. Mary's was 9-for-27 from the field with 11 turnovers in the first half, which ended with Seton Keough leading, 27-25, after a turnaround jumper by Morris at the buzzer. It took until 1:40 into the second quarter before someone other than Davis had scored for the Saints.

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