St. Mary's completes a sweep on Gators' floor

February 22, 1996|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The post-game comments of St. Mary's senior forward Tara Foran may have been understated, but they provided a more accurate depiction of yesterday's game against Seton Keough than the scoreboard.

"It was pretty tough out there," said Foran, with a knowing smile.

In a game that was much closer than the final score, Foran scored a game-high 17 points to lead visiting No. 2 St. Mary's to a 54-44 victory over No. 3 Seton Keough before a standing-room only crowd.

St. Mary's, trailing 44-41 with 3:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, ended the game on a 13-0 run.

With the win, the Saints (25-1, 14-0) clinched the Catholic League regular-season title and swept the season series with the Gators (20-4, 12-2).

St. Mary's, whose 24-game winning streak ended with Sunday's loss to nationally ranked Archbishop Carroll (Pa.), knocked off then-No. 1 Seton Keough, 52-39, last week. The two teams could meet again in the Catholic League tournament later this week.

Just as they did in the first meeting, the Saints dominated the fourth quarter. St. Mary's outscored the Gators, 19-4, in the final period yesterday and by a combined 41-10 in the two games.

Seton Keough, which has held the area's No. 1 ranking for most of the season, maintained the lead from midway through the second quarter until the game's final three minutes. "They're tough as nails," St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson said of the Gators.

Said Foran: "The last eight minutes is usually when we play our best. I think we showed better composure and were more under control. We know if we do the little things right, we'll win.

"And we knew the Catholic League title was on the line. We havworked so hard and we wanted it bad."

Seton Keough, playing without senior guard Melanie Morris -- the Gators' second-leading scorer, best ballhandler and top defensive player who is out with a season-ending knee injury -- could have used her calming influence during its fourth-quarter collapse.

"We lost our composure a little bit," Seton Keough senior Meghann Donovan said. "Melanie has been our leader in those situations and we had to adjust without her."

Said Seton Keough coach Jim Stromberg: "We missed her [Morris'] defense, especially in the fourth quarter. But their kids played real well, especially Jen Manning, who I thought was the difference in the game."

Manning -- who scored 11 points and held Donovan to 10, seven below her season average -- started the Saints' 13-0 spurt with a jumper at the top of the key to pull St. Mary's within 44-43 with 2:57 remaining.

After a Seton Keough turnover, Foran scored on a turn-around jumper in the lane to put St. Mary's ahead to stay with 2:25 left.

Things only got worse for Seton Keough after that. The Gators committed turnovers on their next two possessions, missed five consecutive shots and Stromberg was assessed a technical foul.

"We have nothing to be ashamed of," Stromberg said. "We just ran out of gas."

Seton Keough had built a 31-24 halftime lead. Katie Hammen, who scored 13 to lead the Gators, got all of her points in the second quarter.

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