BY RACHEL WHERRY, STAFF WRITER
The Susquehanna women’s basketball team fell 71-63 in a neck-and-neck conference game against Catholic Feb. 12.
After a loss in their first match-up with the Cardinals, who are currently tied for second in the Landmark Conference, the Crusaders were hoping to come out on top the second time around.
The Crusaders set the pace at the start of the first half, holding a 12-8 lead after just five minutes of action. The Cardinals matched the score at 12 before the Crusaders took off on a 10-4 run to cruise ahead by six points, with Crusaders freshman guard Nikki Komara scored eight of Susquehanna’s points during the stretch.
The Crusaders kept a consistent lead until a layup by Catholic’s Bernadette Launi tied the game at 32 with 1:40 remaining in the first half.
After more than a minute passed with no baskets made by either team, Komara drove the ball in for a layup that clinched a 2-point edge over the Cardinals before the halftime buzzer sounded.
Komara led the Crusaders in the first half with 13 of the total 34 points scored, as well as seven rebounds. She finished the game with 15 points, nine rebounds and a team-high seven assists.
Catholic took back the lead when two players hit jump shots beyond the arc, followed up by a layup made by Michelle Desantis that brought them face-to-face with the Crusaders.
Driving her way through the Crusaders’ defense, Catholic guard Emily Grabiak made a layup at 14:08 in the half that put her team in the lead for the first time.
The score remained tight as both teams exchanged the lead over the next eight minutes. With 6:22 left in regulation, Catholic hit a 3-point jumper that put the Crusaders down 58-56.
Grabiak sunk two jumpers that pushed the Cardinals’ lead to 62-56 and forced a timeout by Susquehanna. As the clock ran its final minutes, the Crusaders would not reclaim their lead over Catholic.
Senior guard Mariah Monahan, who scored a game-best 24 points against Catholic, scored Susquehanna’s final two points off foul shots in the closing five seconds before falling 71-63 at the buzzer.
Monahan said: “We really executed well and overall, when you look at the team stats, we did better in every aspect. But they had 10 more possessions than us and 10 more rebounds than us, and that’s where they hurt us.”
Juniata 72, Susquehanna 69
In a rivalry game with a postseason berth on the line, Susquehanna dropped a tight game to Juniata, 72-69.
The Crusaders were within a point with five seconds to play, but Juniata sunk a pair of free throws to seal their 3-point win.
Sophomore forward Nicole Gault led the way for the Crusaders with 19 points, including two buckets in the final 30 seconds.
The loss dropped the Crusaders to 11-12 with a 5-8 mark in the Landmark Conference, as well as eliminating Susquehanna from playoff contention.
Monahan added 18 points and distributed five assists for the Crusaders.
The Crusaders will close out the regular season with a game at Merchant Marine Feb. 22 at 4 p.m.