SCRANTON, Pa. – The No. 7 University of Scranton women's basketball team (8-0) used a big fourth quarter to outlast Misericordia in a 64-46 victory over the Cougars (7-2) on Wednesday night at the John Long Center in Scranton.
The Lady Royals led 41-35 at the end of the third quarter before outscoring Misericordia by a 23-11 margin in the fourth to secure the victory.
This marks the third 8-0 start in the last four full seasons for Scranton.
Both defenses were strong throughout the first quarter and the Cougars used a pair of late baskets to take a 12-8 lead after one. Misericordia's Gianna Delfino hit a three at the 7:32 mark of the second quarter to extend the lead to 17-12 before senior Hannah Angelini (Baldwin Place, N.Y./Somers) sank a jumper on the other end to ignite an 8-0 run, which resulted in a 20-17 lead for Scranton with 4:29 remaining. Misericordia scored the next three to tie things at 20 apiece, but the Lady Royals closed the half on another 8-0 spurt to take a 28-20 lead into the locker room following an Angelini layup in the waning seconds.
A jumper from junior Maddie Hartnett (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) with 3:32 left in the third quarter stretched the lead to double digits at 36-26. However, the Cougars would not go down without a fight and responded with a 7-0 run that sliced the lead to three for the time being at 36-33 before Lady Royals' senior Bridget Monaghan (Florham Park, N.J./Morristown-Beard) buried a big three to make it a two-possession game once again and the hosts held the 41-35 lead headed into the decisive fourth quarter.
Angelini scored the first four points of the quarter and Monaghan hit a layup that made it a 47-35 game with 7:51 to play. From there, Misericordia was unable to get within single digits and were held to just three points over the next three plus minutes before a Delfino three that cut things to 52-41 with just over three minutes to play. Scranton preserved the victory by going 8-of-9 from the charity stripe over the final 3:35 of the 64-46 victory.
Freshman Kaci Kranson (Scranton, Pa./Holy Cross) led four Lady Royals in double figures with 14 points, while the trio of Angelini, Monaghan and junior Maddy Ryan (Malvern, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) added 10 apiece. Hartnett also sank all three of her attempts from the field for eight points.
Monaghan contributed four rebounds, four assists and four steals in the win to go along with a team-high nine rebounds, five assists and three thefts by graduate student Sam Rajza (Plains, Pa./Holy Redeemer).
Rajza's nine boards matched her season-high that she had set in a win over Gwynedd Mercy on Nov. 12.
Alyssa Bondi paced the Cougars with 11 points in the loss and Delfino added nine of her own and 12 rebounds.
The Lady Royals were 23-of-58 (39.7%) from the floor, 3-of-10 (30.0%) from deep and 15-of-20 (75.0%) from the free throw line on the night. Defensively, they held Misericordia to 28.1% shooting (16-of-57) from the field and a 28.6% (4-of-14) clip from beyond the arc.
Scranton also forced 22 Misericordia turnovers on the night.
Wednesday marks the fourth time in eight games that the Lady Royals have held an opponent to under 30% shooting from the field.
Head coach Ben O'Brien's team is back in action on Monday, Dec. 19 against Wartburg as part of the St. Pete (Fla.) Classic that will be hosted by Eckerd College. Opening tip is set for 3 p.m.