FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Looking for someone to step up in the wake of a slew of injuries, the Nova Southeastern women’s basketball team found that someone in Annie Santucci, who was on fire in the first half, before the usual suspects of Jordan Tully and Hailey Conley combined for 12 in the fourth quarter to fight off Lynn’s comeback attempt, as the Sharks defeated the Fighting Knights, 65-59, in Sunshine State Conference action at the Rick Case Arena on Wednesday evening.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
FINAL: W, 65-59
RECORDS: Nova Southeastern Sharks (11-11, 7-8 SSC), Lynn Fighting Knights (11-12, 6-9 SSC)
LOCATION: Rick Case Arena | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
1ST QUARTER | Janiffer Rodriguez got the scoring started with a 3-pointer on the team’s first possession, setting the tone for what would be a strong first-half shooting effort from long range. The Sharks kept their advantage throughout the quarter, leading by as many as seven points, though they came up empty on their final six possessions (four missed field goals and three turnovers), allowing the Knights to trim the margin down to three with a pair of buckets.
2ND QUARTER | Back-to-back treys by Santucci midway through, after a pair in the first period, as well, made her a perfect 4-for-4 from deep in the game and brought the lead out to a game-high 11 points, at 25-14. Rodriguez and Clara Prasse later kept the teams apart with clutch 3-pointers of their own, but Lynn was still able to get to a more manageable six points (35-29) at halftime.
3RD QUARTER | The Sharks struggled out of the break, shooting just 20 percent (3-15) from the field and 1-of-8 from long distance. Just past the halfway mark, the Fighting Knights got within two points for the first time since the 5:02 point in the first quarter, but both teams missed their next two shots, before Tully cleaned up her own mess on a putback layup with 3:18 left. That would be their last points of the quarter, though, as they missed their final four attempts. The Fighting Knights, meanwhile, ended a scoreless stretch of their own that lasted over three and a half minutes, in which they missed five times and turned it over twice, with two straight baskets from Taylor Jones, knotting up the score at 44 in the final minute, the game’s first tie since before Rodriguez put the first points on the board. Both teams missed chances to go ahead in the final 17 seconds and it remained tied entering the final ten minutes of play.
4TH QUARTER | The Knights took their first and only lead of the game on their first possession a mere 34 seconds in, when Sarah Baer made one of two at the line. However, it would not last, as Rodriguez put the Sharks back in front with a 3-pointer just 20 seconds later. Jones re-tied the game only 26 seconds after that, and two scoreless minutes ensued, with the Sharks missing five field goals, including four from distance, despite three offensive rebounds, and the Knights coughing it up twice. Makenna Drabick finally broke the tie with a 3-pointer to give the Sharks a lead they would not relinquish. They were then able to get either a big stop or a big bucket when necessary, fending off four additional one-possession margins, as Conley and Tully scored all 12 of the team’s points in the final four minutes.
STATS OF THE NIGHT:
- Bouncing back from her career-worst 1-for-12 shooting game on Saturday at Eckerd, Tully poured in a game-high 16 points on 6-of-9 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 at the line. She also recorded a block for the 11th game in a row and 17 of the last 18, dating back to the first month of the season.
- Santucci scored all 14 of her points in the first half, when she shot 4-for-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from deep. She attempted just two shots in the second half, both missed 3-pointers, but added five rebounds and three steals.
- She came into the game with just 28 points on the year in 16 games, shooting 10-33 (.303) from the field and 5-25 (.200) from long, with 14 rebounds and three total steals, but blew past her previous personal bests in a Shark uniform of six points (in Saturday’s game at Eckerd), two field goals made, one 3-pointer made, three rebounds and two steals.
- Conley had her fourth double-double of her career, with a career-high 13 rebounds in addition to 10 points, thanks to 6-of-7 at the charity stripe. She also had four or more assists for the seventh time this year and was just one steal short of matching her career-best of four from last month’s game against Embry-Riddle.
- Rodriguez scored a career-high nine points on 3-for-7 3-point shooting, despite entering the game just 7-of-26 (.269) in her career. In addition to making three in a game, she matched her most 3-point attempts from last month’s game at Lynn.
- The Sharks’ 7 first-half 3-pointers represented a season-high, and their 53 percent success rate was also their best in an opening half this year with at least 12 attempts.
- The Sharks also shot better than 90 percent at the line with at least 10 free throw attempts for the second time this season, as their near-perfect 15-of-16 mark tonight surpassed their 12-for-13 performance on Dec. 14 vs. Rollins.
- Lynn shot just 2-of-14 (.143) from 3-point range, the lowest percentage by a Sharks opponent all season.
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The Sharks will host the Florida Southern Moccasins on Saturday, as part of the NCAA D2 Basketball Showcase, broadcast live on ESPN3, with tip-off from the Rick Case Arena set for 2:00 p.m. The Sharks lost, 76-69, in Lakeland back on Jan. 4, one of three overtime defeats suffered by the Sharks this season.
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