MORRISTOWN, N.J. – Four Saint Elizabeth women reached double figures and the team amassed 23 steals as the Screaming Eagles picked up their third straight victory by topping Penn State-Harrisburg 68-63 Sunday afternoon in North Eastern Athletic Conference basketball action.
With the victory, Saint Elizabeth improves to 10-12 overall, but more importantly, evens their NEAC record at 8-8 with two games left on the schedule. With eight victories, CSE is tied with Penn State-Berks (8-7) for third place in the South Division. The top three teams in the division obtain berths in the NEAC postseason tournament – after Sunday’s action Lancaster Bible (13-2) and PSU Harrisburg (11-4) hold the top two spots. Penn State Abington is close behind at 7-8.
Much like Saturday’s win over Gallaudet, this game hinged on the last four minutes. The Nittany Lions made three of four from the free-throw line to get within a pair of points, 55-53.
Saint Elizabeth senior guard Noelle Grande hit two from the line at 3:47 to push the home team’s lead back to four.
Nittany Lions forward Stephanie Yetter dropped in a jumper after securing an offensive rebound but CSE senior Kelly O’Dell answered with a twisting lay-up.
Penn State Harrisburg wing Mercedes Copeland, who led all scorers with 24 points, nailed her fourth 3-pointer of the game at 2:45 to bring her team within one point.
CSE freshman guard Amerisse Rogers weaved her way to the rim on the next possession and the Screaming Eagles took the 61-58 lead.
After Yetter hit a free throw, CSE executed an out –of-bounds play on the baseline and Rogers hit O’Dell for a layup at 1:49. Rogers secured a defensive rebound off a wayward Copeland jumper and was fouled.
Rogers hit one of the two free throw attempts for a five-point CSE lead. The Nittany Lions refused to wilt way as Copeland two free throws and Amanda Moyer hit a basket to make the score 64-63, CSE.
Rogers again was sent to the charity stripe, and after making the first attempt, Chantele Clark snared an offensive rebound on Rogers’ miss. CSE got the ball to Cheyenne Grant who swished both attempts with 16 seconds left. One more PSU Harrisburg miss and Grande sank one of two and the Screaming Eagles secured a third straight win.
Grant led CSE with 14 points and four steals while O’Dell added 13 points, seven rebounds and six steals. Rogers (12 points) and Grande (10 points, five steals) also reached double figures.
Copeland hit 8-of-17 from the floor while grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with six steals. Yetter added 11 points and eight rebounds.
At the onset, Harrisburg held an early 13-10 lead at 12:07. Rogers finished a circus layup at 9:45 and gave the Screaming Eagles their first lead of the afternoon. Clark converted her own power move along the baseline on CSE’s next possession to extend the lead to 16-13.
Copeland answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game. The Nittany Lions opened a 25-20 lead when Lindsey Halderman knocked down a short baseline jumper at two minutes later.
The lead grew to nine points when Copeland drilled another triple at 2:35. CSE put together a mini-run with a fast break layup by Rogers and a pair of free throws by O’Dell.
Penn State-Harrisburg took a 35-29 lead into the intermission and held a 31-21 advantage on the boards.
Copeland led all scorers with 11 points at half to go along with four steals. O’Dell led CSE with seven points and three steals.
CSE continued its run across the intermission, posting a 6-1 jaunt to cut the deficit to one, 36-35, when Noelle Grande drilled a 3-pointer from her customary left wing.
The Screaming Eagles topped the 20-steal mark for the third time this season (27 vs. Yeshiva; 22 vs. PSU Berks).
After traveling to Penn State-Abington on Friday, Feb. 15, the Screaming Eagles will host Senior Day during their regular-season finale with Lancaster Bible on Saturday, Feb. 16. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m.