Misericordia trailed Lycoming by a single point and huddled around its first-year coach waiting to see what was going to be drawn on the white board that resembles a basketball court. Allison Kern didn't sketch a play the Cougars spent hours practicing in the preseason nor did she dive into a past successful offensive set.
Instead with 16.5 seconds remaining and her team trailing by one on the road, Kern designed a play her team was seeing for the first time.
She may not want to erase that board, or at the least take a lasting memory image, because Caitlin Kessler delivered a game-winning basket off a Taynn McDaniel assist to give Misericordia a come-from-behind 59-58 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday night during Lycoming's home opener.
Lycoming's Rachael Scheller (10) strives for a rebound during the second period against Misericordia Tuesday at Lamade Gym. At right is Misericordia’s Lauren Smicherko.
"We actually never run either of those two plays before (including a 3-pointer by McDaniel out of a timeout with 1:22 left), I just kind of made them up," said Kern.
"It was less about me drawing something up and more about the confidence in our players. We had five people, literally every time we came out, that were exactly where they were supposed to be, exactly when they were supposed to be there and hitting the shots if that was their job."
The Warriors, who dropped their third straight to start the season, had two chances to win the game in the final nine seconds but missed a pair of shots and the whistles were silent.
Misericordia improved to 3-0 and buried some demons for at least one season. The Cougars were just 2-17 in Lamade Gymnasium and 7-32 all-time against the Warriors.
"All I have heard the last couple of days is how many times we have not beat Lyco, so it's good to get that monkey off our back early," said Kern.
Seconds before Kessler's game-winner, it appeared Lycoming pulled victory from defeat after forcing a turnover and watching Kat Andriani with an athletic left-handed finish that resulted in a 3-point play and a one-point lead with 21 seconds left.
McDaniel, however, broke down the Lycoming defense with her dribble and when the Warriors brought help to cut off the driving lane, the senior guard from Bellefonte bounced a pass to Kessler in the paint and she knocked down the short jumper for the lead.
"She got free and we had to help on her and she found the open player," said Lycoming coach Christen Ditzler. "The person with the ball is obviously the most important person in the whole wide world in that respect, so I can't fault my kids for making that rotation, but it was not quick enough to help on (Kessler)."
McDaniel, who knocked down a 3-pointer out of a timeout with 1:22 left that gave her team a 57-55 lead, finished with 10 points and seven assists.
Kessler added 11 points and Kayla Sileo 14. Benton graduate Hannah Seely had 10 rebounds.
Lycoming freshman Shannon Wheeler scored a career-high 12 points and had eight assists.
The freshman from New Jersey restored order for the Warriors after the team went over six minutes minus a field goal to start the second half. The drought led to a 9-0 Misericordia run and evaporated all of Lyco's eight-point lead after Kylee Sutton's free throw to start the second half.
Wheeler ended Lycoming's struggles with back-to-back baskets and then she assisted on three of Lycoming's next four buckets to push the lead back to eight points with 9:51 left.
The young Warriors, however, couldn't deliver the knockout blow as the defending Freedom Conference champions continued to force turnovers and took a lead on a Seely basket with 1:51 remaining.
"It's definitely nice leaving here with a win," said Seely, a junior. "I can't remember, since I've played with Misericordia, beating them, so it means a lot coming out of here with a win."
Lycoming finished with 23 turnovers - 15 in the second half.
The Cougars led on four occasions in the second half, three times by just a point and the other by two points.
Lycoming, which finished 2 of 19 from the 3-point line after entering the game 11 of 36, lost a seven-point lead in the first half and an eight-point advantage over the last 20 minutes.
"I can't say I'm not happy with the effort they put forth, but I'm not happy we couldn't finish layups early on and that we didn't put them away when we had the opportunity," said Ditzler.
The Warriors will return to practice Sunday and begin preparing for their conference opener on Wednesday at home against Alvernia.
Kayla Sileo 5-14 1-2 14; Caitlin Kessler 4-7 3-4 11; Tyann McDaniel 3-12 2-2 10; Lauren Smicherko 4-10 0-0 8; Katie Drayton 3-7 0-0 7; Hannah Seely 2-6 1-2 5; Nikki Baro 1-2 1-2 3; Sam Baro 0-3 1-2 1; Lauren Oertner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-61 9-14 59.
Shannon Wheeler 6-16 0-0 12; Taylor Ford 3-8 4-4 11; Kat Andriani 4-8 1-1 9; Shanley Harlacker 2-7 2-2 7; Julia Antonelli 3-7 0-0 6; Janelle Ziminski 2-3 0-0 4; Olivia Manges 1-6 2-2 4; Kylee Sutton 1-4 1-2 3; Rachael Scheller 1-8 0-0 2. Totals 23-67 10-11 58.
Halftime: Lycoming, 33-26. 3-point goals--Misericordia 6-17 (Sileo 3-7; McDaniel 2-6; Drayton 1-3; Seely 0-1), Lycoming 2-19 (Harlacker 1-6; Ford 1-2; Ziminski 0-1; Manges 0-2; Scheller 0-3; Wheeler 0-5). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Misericordia 40 Seely 10), Lycoming 46 (Antonelli 10). Assists--Misericordia 17 (McDaniel 7), Lycoming 17 (Wheeler 8). Total fouls--Misericordia 12, Lycoming 15. Technical fouls-None. A-264