St. Mary's rally tops No. 1 Seton Keough, 52-39 Girls basketball

February 15, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Thirty-three days of frustration ended for unbeaten and third-ranked St. Mary's yesterday.

The Saints caught up with Catholic League rival and No. 1 Seton Keough in Annapolis and sent the Gators down to a 52-39 defeat behind the 10-for-10 fourth-quarter free-throw shooting of freshman Maria Smear.

Smear's performance at the line led a 22-6 run that wiped out a 33-30 Seton Keough lead at the end of the third quarter.

"It feels great to win this game," Smear said. "We've waited so long to play them. That's why we wanted it badly, but we know we have to go out and do it again Friday night."

St. Mary's has been stalking the Gators since Jan. 12 when the two teams were first scheduled to meet at Seton Keough. But that game was postponed twice due to weather conditions and will now be played tomorrow night at Keough at 7.

That made yesterday's regularly scheduled game at St. Mary's the first meeting between the two powers who are dueling for No. 1 in the Baltimore Sun poll and first place in the Catholic League.

St. Mary's (23-0) now takes over first in the Catholic League with a 13-0 record while Seton Keough (18-3) drops to 10-1.

If St. Mary's can knock off the Gators again tomorrow night, Seton Keough would lose the No. 1 position in the Sun poll it has held since Dec. 19.

Smear, who seemed to be all over the court yesterday, was involved in a collision with Seton Keough's sophomore guard, Amanda Foster, with 2:54 left in the fourth quarter.

Smear and Foster were chasing the ball and the players collided, with Foster hitting her head on the floor and eventually being taken to an Anne Arundel hospital in an ambulance after the game was delayed 18 minutes.

The hospital would not comment on Foster's condition last night and Seton Keough coach Jim Stromberg also did not have any information on his player.

Foster's ball-handling against the Saints' pressure defense had been a key factor in Seton Keough's building a 24-18 lead late in the first half and clinging to the three-point advantage at the end of the third quarter. Foster also had 13 points to lead the Seton Keough scoring.

"I feel badly about Amanda getting hurt," said Smear, who finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds in an extended stint off the bench.

Senior Tara Foran led the St. Mary's scoring with 17 points and had eight rebounds.

Foran helped the Saints stay in the game in the first quarter by scoring the first five points for the home team, which came out tight at the start.

Senior forward Jen Manning and freshman point guard Emily Lipton also had outstanding games for the winners. Manning scored eight points and had a team-high nine rebounds, and Lipton had a team-high five assists and some big rebounds.

"We couldn't execute on offense so we had to make our free throws," St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson said.

The Saints hit 26 of 29 from the line, compared to 13 of 21 for the Gators, who played without outstanding senior guard Melanie Morris, out with a knee injury.

"They played with five and we had five players," Stromberg said. "They just played better at crucial times than we did."

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