HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Ursinus College women's basketball team had chances down the stretch but fell short, 57-53, in an evenly-played Centennial Conference thriller at Haverford.
In a battle between two squads tied for third place in the CC, Ursinus (13-7, 10-5) rallied back from an 11-point deficit in the early stages of the third quarter to have a chance late at a road victory over Haverford (15-5, 11-4), which leads the conference in scoring defense at just under 50 points allowed per game.
Points and made baskets were tough to come by for both teams, who each hovered around 30 percent from the floor. It was the Fords who shot a bit better to take a 29-22 lead at halftime.
After a strong third quarter in which they nearly matched their scoring output in the first half alone with 20 points, the Bears took a one-point lead after freshmen Gabby Downs drained a big 3-pointer with less than eight minutes to go in the game. The possession started as sophomore Aliyah Stephens collapsed the defense with a dribble drive then kicked to classmate Marisa Morano on the baseline who found Downs beyond the arc to grab a 45-44 edge. Off the bench, Downs scored 13 points with three triples in 18 minutes of action.
Stephens led all scorers with 14 points. She also had six rebounds and two steals.
With seven-and-a-half minutes left, Morano hit a jump shot to go up 47-45 before Julianna Clark nailed a 3-pointer to give the Fords the one-point edge. Clark led the Fords with 13 points and three crucial made triples off the bench.
Haverford's Macy Goldbach's pull-up banked jumper put the Fords up 51-47 with under five minutes to go. The Bears kept the Fords off the board from there until a minute to go and over that span the Bears tied it 51-51 after junior Lydia Konstanzer drove baseline and snuck the ball off the glass. Morano collected the offensive board to set up the tying possession. Konstanzer registered her league-leading 10th double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 boards.
A Haverford turnover gave the Bears a chance to take the lead. Konstanzer was fouled dribbling at the top of the key, but both free throws rimmed out. The Bears left important points at the line on the night, going just 14-of-24 (58.3%).
Haverford's Maddie Gallic was then fouled in the paint. Gallic made her second free throw to go up 52-51 with 52 seconds remaining.
The Bears had another chance to take the lead but Downs' mid-range jumper bounced out with 23 seconds left. Ursinus fouled Nyla Robinson, who made one freebie to go up two points, 53-51, with 21 seconds left.
Ursinus had yet another chance to get a critical bucket but turned the ball over, and the Fords made two more free throws to go up 55-51. Sophomore Maya Kornfeld missed a 3, but Stephens followed up the miss to get within 55-53 with seven seconds to go. Kornfeld added 13 points and six rebounds.
Gallic then iced the game with a pair of free throws to go up four points. Gallic made eight of her 10 points at the line along eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
Haverford's tough defense kept the Bears without a field goal until 5 ½ minutes into the contest after missing their first six field goal attempts. Konstanzer snatched an offensive board and put it back in with the Bears only down, 7-5.
Stephens drained a three to knot the game, 10-10, until Goldbach hit a jumper to put the Fords up 12-10 after the first quarter. Despite ice cold 2-of-13 (15.4%) shooting, the Bears were down just two points after the first stanza.
The Bears took their first lead since 1-0 after Konstanzer made a free throw to go up 18-17 with less than four minutes left in the half. Haverford put together a 11-5 run to close the period, with Megan Furch's layup with a few seconds remaining giving the Fords a seven-point lead. Furch, the reigning CC player of the week, just missed a double-double with nine points, 12 boards, two steals and two blocks.
Ursinus shot 6-of-29 (20.7%) in the first half. Haverford went 12-of-33 (36.4%).
Haverford made two buckets early in the third quarter to go up 33-22. It was the Fords' largest lead. Stephens' layup ended a Ursinus scoring drought of over four minutes of game action.
Junior Toni Suler deflected an entry pass, Kornfeld scooped it up then found Stephens down the court for an easy fast-break basket to get within two points at 38-36.
The Bears tied it 38-38 when Kornfeld made a bucket with over three minutes to go in the third quarter. Haverford would take a slim 44-42 edge into the last quarter.
Both squads shot around 31 percent from deep. The Fords led in the free throw department, going 17-of-27 (63%). Both grabbed 43 rebounds, but the Bears had just six assists to the Fords' 13. Haverford also committed fewer turnovers (12-10).
The Bears look to knock off visiting CC leader No. 23 Gettysburg Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.