NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Junior Paige McNally (Barre, Vt.) had a career night for the Norwich University women's basketball team, but two made free throws with one second left on the clock propelled the visiting Monks of Saint Joseph's (Maine) College to a 68-67 victory on Tuesday.
Norwich falls to 14-10 overall on the season, dipping to 8-7 in Great Northeast Athletic Conference play. The Monks improve to 20-4 on the season, winning all but one of its 15 conference games on the season.
McNally shattered virtually every personal single-game record, scoring 19 points and reeling in 13 rebounds, 11 of the offensive variety. In addition to setting personal bests in those statistics, she added seven field goals and picked up a career-high two steals in 29 minutes.
Senior Heather LeBlanc (Sanford, Maine) notched 22 points for the Cadets, reeling in 11 rebounds while making 10-of-11 field goals from the floor to set the program record with a .909 field goal percentage. As a team, the Cadets shot 26-for-64 from the floor (40.6%) and outrebounded the Monks, 46-to-33.
With the score tied for the fourth time in the game, back-to-back three point baskets by Saint Joseph's created a 19-15 lead with 1:41 left in the first quarter. A clutch layup by McNally in the final 20 seconds, however, tied the game at 19 – the Cadets dominated the paint in the opening 10 minutes, scoring 12 of the game's 14 points under the basket.
Brianne Maloney and Emily Benway created two separate five-point leads for the Monks in the second quarter. Norwich, however, would rally to tie the game at 35 before a clutch triple by Kelsi McNamara in the final 15 seconds of the first half would propel Saint Joseph's to the halftime lead, 38-35.
The Cadets captured a three-point lead after a McNally layup and back-to-back free throws by junior Shyann Josler (Thetford Center, Vt.) put the Cadets ahead by a 49-46 margin. Down by one, McNally was fouled immediately as the scoreboard clock struck zero – she tied the game at 50 and then gave her team the 51-50 lead heading into the fourth.
Norwich opened up the fourth quarter with two separate three-point leads, leading by a 57-54 spread with 8:11 left in regulation time. The Cadets led by two points late, but the score was tied on three separate occasions in the final 79 seconds of play.
McNally would dramatically put her team ahead, 67-66, with one second left on the scoreboard following a layup, but Saint Joseph's called a timeout to move the ball into its offensive zone with one second left. The Cadets allowed a clean break to the basket on the next inbound play, however, and Norwich was forced to foul.
In the most difficult of circumstances, Julia Champagne went to the free throw line with the game on the line. She made back-to-back free throws to elevate her team to a 68-67 lead – a late heave by the Cadets did not go and the Monks earned their 20th victory of the season.
Champagne finished with a game-high 19 points for Saint Joseph's, making nine free throws, while McNamara tallied 17 points and a team-best four assists. The Cadets out-rebounded the Monks by a 46-to-33 margin, but made five of the game's six three-point field goals.
The Cadets will look to finish the regular season strong, taking on Lasell on the road this Saturday, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. to help determine GNAC postseason seeding.