MORRISTOWN, N.J. – Freshman guard Ashley Pledger scored a career-best 27 points and senior Kelly O’Dell contributed another double-double as the Screaming Eagles held off pesky SUNY Morrisville 69-58 in North Eastern Athletic Conference basketball action Saturday afternoon in St. Joseph’s Hall.
The victory in the first game after the winter break improves Saint Elizabeth to 4-5 overall and 2-1 in the NEAC. Morrisville State drops to 0-9 overall, 0-2 in the conference.
The Screaming Eagles opened up a 13-point lead midway through the second half when Pledger canned one of her two 3-pointers.
But the Mustangs clipped off a 10-2 run to cut the score to 45-40 CSE with 9:46 on the clock. A fast-break lay-up and a pair of free throws from Pledger pushed the Screaming Eagles’ advantage to 49-40.
Another 10-2 run by SUNY Morrisville, capped by Jennel Paul’s runner in the lane, made it a one-point game in Saint Elizabeth’s favor at the 6-minute mark. After a Pledger free throw (she made seven of her eight attempts), Paul tied the game with an elbow jumper at 5:20.
O’Dell immediately came down the floor and sank her own jumper in the paint to give CSE the lead back, 54-52 with five minutes to go. The Screaming Eagles buckled down on defense – they had 14 steals on the day – and secured the rebounds (a 44-41 advantage). The extra possessions transitioned to the other end of the floor where nine points from Pledger propped up a 17-6 game-clinching run over the final four minutes.
O’Dell dropped in 20 points to go with a team-high 14 rebounds, four steals and four assists. Chantele Clark added 10 rebounds and six points.
Paul and Queen Holquin tied for high honors on SUNY Morrisville with 17 points each. Paul snagged a game-high 17 rebounds as well.
At the onset of the day, both teams appeared to trying to shake off the winter break doldrums. Morrisville was the first to get its offense going, opening up an 8-0 lead after a triple by LaCandice Sanders.
The Screaming Eagles went to work on the backboards, with a pair of offensive rebound putbacks sparking their own 8-0 run. Pledger tied the score, 8-8, by converting a fast-break layup at 12:12.
Junior swing Cheyenne Grant drained a 3-pointer at the 8-minute mark to put CSE up 14-8. Grant would lead all scorers with 10 points in the half.
The Mustangs found the range from beyond the 3-point arc late in the first half. Holquin nailed consecutive triples and SUNY Morrisville got within one point, 20-19, with 3:35 on the clock.
The teams traded triples with O’Dell’s 3-pointer putting CSE back in front, 23-22, with 2:49 left. Another layup by Pledger and triple from Grant gave the Screaming Eagles a 30-23 lead at the break.
Saint Elizabeth is back at home on Sunday for its fifth home game in a row, welcoming NEAC foe SUNY Cobleskill to St. Joseph’s Hall for at 1 p.m. contest.