WASHINGTON, D.C. – No one outside the Susquehanna women's locker room may have given the Crusaders a chance against a 20-1 Catholic team, but SU nearly up-ended the No. 13 Cardinals, falling just short by a 54-53 margin.
Susquehanna's Brianna Murphy (Hazlet, N.J./Mater Dei Prep) had two last-second shots to sink the game winner but those shots were just off the mark as Catholic (21-1, 10-1) squeaked by with a win.
SU (7-15, 2-9) was led in scoring by Shannon Grunwald (Neshanic Station, N.J./Somerville) who netted a season-high 20 points while also pulling down five rebounds. Grunwald was the lone player in double figures for the Crusaders although Gina Palazzi (Newfoundland, Pa./Wallenpaupack) and Eleni Dimou (Center Valley, Pa./Southern Lehigh) had eight points apiece. Palazzi also added eight rebounds, including four of the offensive variety.
It was a rough shooting night for both teams with the Crusaders making only 39 percent of their field goals and shot just 20 percent from three-point range and 55.6 percent at the free throw line. The Susquehanna defense held the Cardinals to just a 32 percent showing from the floor, though, and Catholic sank only 16 percent of its three-point attempts.
The teams swapped buckets for the start of the game with Catholic holding a slim, 8-6 edge five minutes into the action with all six of SU's points coming from Grunwald.
Grunwald proceeded to knot the game at 8-8 before draining a three for an 11-8 Crusader lead. A Mariah Monahan (Towanda, Pa./Towanda Area) free throw with 12:07 on the clock put Susquehanna ahead 12-8.
Catholic's Emily Grabiak tied the game at 14 less than three minutes later. With only 2:29 left in the half, the Cardinals held a seven-point lead (27-20) and maintained that seven-point edge at halftime (29-22).
The Crusaders found themselves in a 10-point hole, 37-27, four minutes into the second half and trailed by 13 (48-35) at the midway point of the half.
However, SU chipped away at the lead and thanks in part to a 7-0 run that got the team within just three points of the lead (50-47) with 4:43 still to play.
With the score 54-49 in favor of Catholic, a brief 4-0 Crusader run comprised entirely of free throws suddenly made it a 54-53 ballgame and with 1:09 left to play, SU had plenty of time to complete a comeback.
Unfortunately, Susquehanna missed two free throws and combined with Murphy's two missed shots in the closing seconds the Cardinals were able to escape with the win.
The women are back on the road Saturday to take on Moravian at 2 p.m.