Cohen hits 1,000-point plateau in Mercy win St. Mary's, Seton Keough, John Carroll also triumph in Catholic tournament

February 24, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Last night's Catholic League Tournament quarterfinal between No. 13 Mercy and St. Frances came down to a tale of two guards.

While Mercy's Shannon Cohen enjoyed one of the highlights of )) her career, St. Frances' Jakia Ervin was confined to the bench with a sprained ankle.

Cohen, a junior point guard, scored her 1,000th career point while leading the host Magic to a 43-35 victory.

Only the third Mercy player since 1985 to reach the milestone, Cohen now stands behind only Rosemary Kosiorek (1,932 points) and Stephanie Rohe on the school's all-time scoring list.

More important to Cohen, however, was the win that sends the Magic (18-9) into today's semifinal against No. 2 and top-seeded St. Mary's at 5 p.m. at Spalding.

In the other semifinal, No. 3 Seton Keough meets John Carroll at 7. The championship will be decided Sunday at 2 p.m. at Spalding.

Last night, Cohen finished with 16 points, five assists, five steals and eight rebounds to lead an otherwise balanced Mercy effort.

On the other hand, Ervin, the Panthers' floor leader who averages 18 points a game, could only watch after spraining her ankle in Sunday's loss to Seton Keough.

Cohen understood how big a difference Ervin's absence made for the Panthers (10-13), who have eight underclassmen on their 13-playerroster.

"Jakia's a really big part of their team and I think that's why they weren't shooting real well in the first quarter," said Cohen. "She -- kind of gets them rolling, so I think that helped us out a little bit at the beginning."

The Magic, who swept the three-game series with the Panthers, shredded St. Frances' zone defense early with quick ball movement and ran up a 10-0 lead. Four of those first five baskets were assisted.

"That's what you want to do against a zone," said Panthers coach Jerome Shelton. "You want to have good ball movement to break it down. Good ball rotation forces the defense to move faster and creates an open shot."

While the Panthers hit just 1 of 10 from the field, the Magic shot 6-for-13 for the first quarter. By the time Mercy took its 10-point lead, the Magic had outshot St. Frances, 11-5.

"They have to have more confidence in their shot," said Shelton ** of his young players. "They've got to look for their shot and they can't pass up shots. They've got to challenge themselves to take those open shots."

The Magic never hesitated, using all five players in the offense. Tina Steck finished with eight points, and Ashlee Courter added six.

"The key to us is we're not just one person or two people," said Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion.

"Everybody's got to be touching the ball, feeling a part of the offense. We're very unselfish and that's the reason why we got the lead that we did."

The Magic eventually ran its lead to 39-20, before St. Frances staged a comeback.

The Panthers outscored Mercy 15-4 through the last four minutes of the game. But the rally came much too late to turn the game around, especially after St. Frances had scored just three points in the third quarter.

Nillion Lambert led the Panthers with 12 points, including two three-pointers.

In yesterday's other Catholic Tournament quarterfinals:

* St. Mary's 72, Mount de Sales 30: Tara Foran scored 23 to lead host and No. 2 St. Mary's (26-1) over Mount de Sales.

* Seton Keough 45, Spalding 28: Meghann Donovan scored 14 and No. 3 Seton Keough limited visiting Spalding to just eight first-half points.

* John Carroll 53, IND 51: Jen Westervelt's jumper with 1:30 broke a 51-51 tie as visiting John Carroll (12-12) upset No. 12 Institute of Notre Dame (13-11). Westervelt led John Carroll with 25 points while Brittany Whitehurst added 14 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.

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