Kelly's late free throws lift IND past Mercy in The Game

Penguins win 33-32 before about 4,000 fans at the Towson Center

January 27, 2012|By Todd Karpovich, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Kayla Kelly knew she wasn't only playing for her Institute of Notre Dame teammates Friday night against Mercy. She was also playing for generations of former players in the Towson Center stands who took part in a rivalry that is so revered it is simply known as "The Game."

Despite those circumstances, Kelly stayed focused sank a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to seal the Penguins' 33-32 victory in the 46th edition of the matchup before an estimated and sometimes deafening crowd of 4,000. IND snapped Mercy's five-game winning streak in the series but still trails 29-17 all-time.

"I just blocked everybody out and tried to do the best I could," said Kelly, who finished with nine points. "There was no pressure. We were just pumped. We came out ready to play. It was our time. We wanted to win."

In a game that is as much about pep squads, dancing and overall school spirit, both teams managed to stay focused on the game. Morgan Caution led IND with 10 points and five blocks. Samantha Hruz led Mercy with 13 points.

IND (5-10) clung to a 17-16 lead at the half, but a layup by Hruz gave Mercy its first lead since scoring the game's first basket. The teams then traded field goals for the rest of the quarter. Back-to-back layups by Jennifer Hahn and Taliyah Baker gave IND a 27-23 lead in final minute. Hahn then suffered a wrist injury and had to be helped from the court.

Mercy (1-13) pulled within 29-28 on a jumper by Hruz with four minutes left in the game. But Kelly increased IND's lead to 33-30 with the pair of free throws with 25 seconds remaining. Mercy's Kayla Hicks cut the margin to one on the next possession, but the Magic would not get any closer.

"This is our game, this is our year" Caution said. "It made me feel special and ready to play. Everybody was just screaming, and there were a lot of festivities."

A 3-pointer by Kelly midway through the first quarter gave IND an early 7-3 lead. Mercy eventually settled down and a jumper by Ilysia Lewis in the closing seconds cut the margin to 9-7 at the end of the quarter.

IND held the lead throughout the second quarter. Consecutive field goals by Megan Fridley gave IND a 14-11 lead midway through the second Mercy later cut the margin to one in the final minute, but the Magic still trailed at the break.

"This is what both schools are about," IND coach Jerry Hahn said. "There is tradition and sportsmanship. Both teams battled. We knew tonight it was going to be a fairly even match. It was big."

IND 33, Mercy 32

M- Aikens 4, Hruz 13, Davis 1, Lewis 4, Baker 2, Abell 4, Hicks 4.

Totals: 12 7-20

IND-Hahn 3, Kelly 9, Fridley 4, Baker 2, Caution 10, Mercer 1, Petrides 4.

Totals: 11 8-17

Half: I: 17-16

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