MADISON, N.J. –Susquehanna’s Gina Palazzi (Newfoundland, Pa./Wallenpaupack) had a chance to complete an epic comeback against Landmark Conference opponent Drew, but her last-second buzzer beater bounced off the rim as the Rangers held on for a 64-62 win.
The Crusaders (11-11, 6-5), who trailed by as many as 17 early in the second half, had pulled within one late in the game, but could not come all the way back
SU shot less than 32 percent from the field but sank 30 percent of its three-point shots, including three from Korey McCaffrey (Millheim, Pa./Penns Valley Area), who finished with a career-high 18 points. Senior Samantha Cartwright (Cranford, N.J./Cranford) led all scorers with 21 points and added eight boards.
Palazzi led all players with 11 boards while senior Rachael Hughes (Gordon, Pa./North Schuylkill) dished out a team-best five assists to complement her seven points.
SU’s bench chipped in 30 of its 62 overall points but the Rangers (9-12, 2-8) were aided by their 30 points in the paint, compared to the Crusaders’ six.
The SU offense got out of the gates slowly, falling behind 12-2 after five minutes of play. A 13-2 stretch by the Crusaders, highlighted by six points from McCaffrey, put them right back in the game, however, as they pulled within one (16-15).
Unfortunately Drew closed out the half on an 11-3 run that built the Rangers’ lead back to double digits and made it 34-21 as the teams headed into the locker rooms at halftime.
Cartwright scored three of SU’s first five points of the second half, including a jumper four minutes into the period that made it 39-26. Hughes followed with a trey for a 39-28 score.
Midway through the period, the Rangers still maintained a double-digit lead, 46-36. Cartwright sank two free throws with 7:34 on the clock to briefly make it an eight-point game, 48-40. Cartwright kept it an eight-point game with a jumper that made it 52-44 with less than six minutes to play.
Yet another Cartwright jumper made it 57-48 and McCaffrey followed with a bucket from long range that quickly cut Drew’s lead to six, 57-51, with 3:30 remaining.
That remained the score at the two-minute mark when McCaffrey sank her third three-pointer of the afternoon for a 57-54 ballgame. The Rangers’ Danielle Barber countered with a trey of her own to make it 60-54 with 1:47 to play.
It was a five-point game, 62-57, with 48 seconds on the clock and the ball in the Rangers’ possession. A costly Drew turnover handed the ball back to SU and Hughes sank an easy jumper to bring her squad within three, 62-59, with 33 seconds remaining.
Erika Barron (Tamaqua, Pa./Tamaqua Area) came up with perhaps the team’s biggest bucket of the afternoon when her three-pointer made it 63-62 with 10 seconds to play. SU had no choice but to foul, but Drew’s JanMateo made only one of her free throw attempts. Unfortunately, Palazzi’s jumper at the buzzer bounced off the rim as the Crusaders dropped the one-point decision.
Next game: Friday, Feb. 11 vs. Scranton – 5:30 p.m.