No. 1 Keough comes back to knock off Mercy, 50-49 Several Gators step up in absence of Morris

February 10, 1996|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Seton Keough coach Jim Stromberg said the loss of Melanie Morris with a knee injury will force other Gators to step up.

Several of Seton Keough's players did just that last night against 13 Mercy. The top-ranked Gators needed clutch plays from Meghann Donovan, Kelly Kearney and Andrea Pinheiro in the final minute to score a come-from-behind 50-49 victory over the visiting Magic in a Catholic League game.

Just like when the two teams met last week, neither found its stride on offense. But Seton Keough (17-2, 9-0) led for most of the game before Mercy (16-8, 6-6) rallied in the fourth quarter.

There were seven lead changes in the final five minutes as the Magic -- sparked by Shannon Cohen (16 points) and Jamie Vogtman (16 points) -- came back to take the lead. But the Gators stayed calm.

"We started to make some good [decisions] with the ball," said Stromberg of his team's effort in the final minutes. "We just wanted to get good shots."

Trailing 47-44 with one minute left, Seton Keough started to rally. Donovan (17 points, nine rebounds) sparked the run by intercepting a Mercy pass. On the next trip down the floor, Nessa Klein (eight points) -- replacing Morris -- hit two free throws with 53 seconds left.

Sara McAllister then missed a jumper for Mercy, and Klein grabbed the rebound. The Gators called timeout with 35 seconds left, and Pinheiro (10 points) followed by driving the baseline for a layup and a 48-47 lead with 27 seconds left.

"When I saw the lane free, I just went," said Pinheiro.

The Magic then turned it over on their next possession, and Kearney (13 points) finished the six-point run by hitting two free throws for a 50-47 lead with 11 seconds left. Vogtman made a jumper at the buzzer for Mercy, but it wasn't enough.

Both teams played tough defense -- a repeat of Seton Keough's 37-31 victory 12 days ago. While the Gators (20-for-51) shot better than their 26-percent effort of that game, the Magic (20 percent last time) still struggled, making just 15 of 58.

Even though Cohen scored 16 points, Seton Keough defenders hounded her throughout the game and limited the guard to only three baskets. She fouled out with 2:43 left.

"We deserved to win the game," said Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion. "We played hard enough. They gave me everything they had tonight."

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