Freshmen help Mercy hold off Poly, 63-53 Vogtman, Vojik, Courter stave off Engineers' rally

January 19, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Some coaches would have to bite their nails watching three freshmen on the court in the crucial minutes of a close game, but not Mercy's Mary Ella Marion.

When veteran point guard Shannon Cohen sat down with four fouls late in the third quarter yesterday, Mercy clung to a six-point lead over No. 7 Poly. Marion relied on Jamie Vogtman, Judith Vojik and Ashlee Courter, along with junior Tina Steck and senior Beth Simmons, to carry the visiting Magic as long as possible.

Even though Poly cut the lead to three by the end of the quarter, Marion stuck with her youngsters. They didn't disappoint her, running up an eight-point lead to spark No. 12 Mercy's 63-53 win.

"They played very well without Shannon," said Poly coach Charlie Sullivan, whose team whittled a 12-point Mercy lead down to three. "That was our chance and they wouldn't let us take it."

Marion agreed. "When Shannon went out with that fourth foul, that was very much the turning point. It was a big test for us, because we haven't been in a situation like that all year. Every one of those girls stepped up and did what they needed to do offensively and defensively to bide some time before I could get Shannon back in there."

Courter, who scored seven as the Magic opened the fourth quarter with a 9-4 run, finished with a game-high 17 points. Vogtman had nine to go along with 15 rebounds while Cohen scored 12 and dished out 10 assists -- three in the final four minutes.

Poly (7-2) had just as many offensive weapons with Lindsay Willemain (16 points, 15 rebounds), Kendall Peace (15 points) and Jawai Maith (10 points). But the Engineers' defense gave up too many open shots.

"A lot more of us need to see the floor better instead of rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off," said Peace. "Too many people are rushing to the ball instead of letting one person go to the ball and keeping everybody else covered."

Mercy (12-4) responded by shooting 42 percent from the field.

"I hate to keep using this as an excuse," said Sullivan, "but we just don't play that many good teams and that's a real problem. These people are going to hit the open person and hit the open shot. We've gotten away with giving people some open shots that they didn't hit, but you can't do that against this kind of competition."

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