With just about three seconds left in the half, and a bench full of teammates counting the time down, Julia Antonelli calmly gave a pump fake and ducked under her defender for a buzzer-beating basket.
Antonelli then opened the second half with another basket and Lycoming surged to get back into the game. But in what was a common scene in the opening game of the Hoops for Hounds Tournament at Lamade Gymnasium, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts bailed itself out with a timely basket.
Lucy Tremblay hit two important shots in the second half, which gave MCLA just enough as it escaped the first-round game with a 73-69 win over the host Warriors.
With the loss, Lycoming (2-7) dropped into the consolation game today at 1 p.m. against Eastern, which fell 53-49 to Susquehanna Friday. Susquehanna and MCLA meet today at 3 in the championship.
The tournament helped raise money for the Lycoming County SPCA, which was on hand to collect donations.
After sparking a 12-2 run to open the second half, Antonelli added two free throws to brake open the sixth tie of the game. The free throws also boosted Lycoming's offense, which scored 11 of the next 14 points to build a nine-point lead with just over eight minutes to play.
"She was our go-to player from a points perspective," Lycoming coach Christen Ditzler said of Antonelli, who finished with a career-high 25 points. "She needs help, though. We can't just look to Julia. Other people need to step up and score."
Shannon Wheeler (10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) followed Antonelli's free throws with a 3-pointer on Lycoming's next possession. Lucy Tremblay, who led all MCLA (6-4) scorers with 24 points, briefly stopped the surge with a basket in the paint, but Lycoming responded with six consecutive points to push its lead to nine before the Trailblazers called a timeout.
Along with sparking Lycoming's second half run, Antonelli, who completed a double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds, paced the Warriors' offense throughout the half. Antonelli scored 15 of her game-high 25 points and pulled down eight of her team-high 12 rebounds over the final 20 minutes.
The 11-3 run, sparked by Antonelli's two free throws, gave the Warriors a nine-point lead but Tremblay quickly chiseled it down with a 3-pointer. Tremblay connected on four of her nine 3-point attempts. Danielle Scolpino was the only other Trailblazer to hit a trey.
"She's a very good player," Ditzler said of Tremblay. "She stepped up and that's what good players do. She really had a good game for them."
Lycoming struggled to find any type of consistency. The 11-3 surge in the second half was followed by a Trailblazer run sparked by Tremblay's three. Tremblay also connected on a 3-pointer and layup to score MCLA's final five points of the first half.
Throughout the first half, MCLA made it difficult for Lycoming to set its offense. The Trailblazers deployed a full-court press, which forced Lycoming to speed up its game. The second half, though, was a completely different story as Lycoming switched to a zone defense, which slowed the game down and made pressing difficult.
"We went to a zone and it worked for a little while," Ditzler said. "Once they worked the inside it really hurt us. We didn't capitalize on some things. We had a lot of turnovers and they capitalized on our turnovers."
The adjustments worked as Lycoming opened the second half on a 12-2 run. Antonelli and Kat Andriani led the run with four points apiece as Lycoming took a two-point lead with 14:37 remaining.
The lead quickly fell when Danielle Beauchamp hit a layup for the game's fifth tie. Beauchamp erased Lycoming's two-point lead to tie the game at 61 apiece. She then hit a free throw to give MCLA the lead for good.
Janelle Ziminski added some tension to the end of the game when she bagged a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to play. The basket got Lycoming to within 71-69 of tying the game, but two Kait Chenevert free throws iced the game on the next possession.
Lucy Tremblay 10-17 0-1 24; Danielle Beauchamp 6-9 3-3 15; Johanna Miner 7-8 0-1 14; Kait Chenevert 3-14 2-2 8; Danielle Scolpino 1-8 5-6 8; Mariah Brown 2-5 0-0 4; Alyson Stolz 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-62 10-13 73
Julia Antonelli 11-17 3-4 25; Shannon Wheeler 4-9 1-1 10; Janelle Ziminski 3-8 2-6 9; Ali Derr 3-6 0-0 6; Kat Andriani 2-7 2-2 6; Chelsea Henderson 2-3 0-0 4; Rachael Scheller 2-6 0-1 4; Leeann Randall 1-2 0-0 3; Victoria Kowalski 1-7 0-0 2; Taylor Ford 0-1 0-0 0; Shanley Harlacker 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 29-70 8-14 69.
Halftime: MCLA, 35-30. 3-point goals--MCLA 5-17 (Tremblay 4-9; Scolpino 1-5; Chenevert 0-1; Stolz 0-1; Beauchamp 0-1), Lycoming 3-12 (Randall 1-1; Wheeler 1-3; Ziminski 1-2; Scheller 0-2; Kowalski 0-2; Harlacker 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--MCLA 39 (Tremblay 9; Miner 9), Lycoming 43 (Antonelli 12). Assists--MCLA 17 (Chenevert 5; Tremblay 5), Lycoming 23 (Scheller 8). Total fouls--MCLA 15, Lycoming 17. Technical fouls--None. A-285