SCRANTON, Pa. – The University of Scranton women's basketball team (7-1) held off a late Catholic rally and captured the program's sixth straight conference championship with a 56-55 victory over the Cardinals (7-3) in the Landmark Conference Championship game on Saturday afternoon at the John Long Center in Scranton.
This marks the second straight year that the Lady Royals have defeated Catholic in the conference title game and the ninth overall Landmark title in program history. It was also the fifth time in seven years that the two teams have played in the conference title game.
The Lady Royals led 55-44 with 3:52 to play before Catholic cut the lead to three with an 8-0 run with 1:04 left. Erin Doherty missed a pair of free throws for the Cardinals in the final minute before junior Emily Shurina (East Meadow, N.Y./East Meadow) hit a free throw for Scranton to make it a two possession game once again at 56-52 with 0:12 remaining.
Freshman Maddie Hartnett (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) was named Landmark Conference Tournament MVP after scoring a career-high 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Sophomore Bridget Monaghan (Florham Park, N.J./Morristown-Beard) added 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds and three assists, while Shurina tallied 10 points and six rebounds.
Doherty paced Catholic with 21 points and Amanda Johnson added 18.
Scranton came storming out of the gate on a 9-0 run capped by a layup from sophomore Kyra Quigley (Drexel Hill, Pa./Sacred Heart Academy Bryn Mawr) with 7:59 left in the opening stanza. A three-pointer from Hartnett stretched the lead to 13 at 16-3 with 3:08 left in the quarter and the Lady Royals led 19-10 after one. Shurina hit a layup with 7:01 left in the second quarter to make it a 23-12 game before the Cardinals answered with a 9-3 run over the remainder of the quarter and Doherty's jumper in the final minute made it a 26-21 game at the break.
The Lady Royals led 28-23 in the early stages of the third quarter and junior Danielle McCurdy (Philadelphia, Pa./Archbishop Ryan) hit a layup to kickstart a 13-5 run over the remainder of the period to give the hosts a 41-28 lead after three following a three from Hartnett in the final minute. Both teams traded baskets for a majority of the fourth quarter before the afore-mentioned triple from Hartnett opened up the 55-44 lead at the 3:52 mark and a pair of free throws from Rachel Bussanich on the other end kicked off the 8-0 run for Catholic.
Head coach Nick DiPillo's squad shot 36.2% (21-of-58) from the floor and 40.9% (9-of-22) from deep, while Catholic was 19-of-55 (34.5%) from the field and 7-of-12 (58.3%) from beyond the arc. Scranton held a 43-37 edge in the rebounding battle led by eight rebounds from sophomore Hannah Angelini (Baldwin Place, N.Y./Somers) and seven from McCurdy.
The Lady Royals cap the abbreviated 2021 campaign at 7-1 with their sixth straight Landmark Conference crown.