March 8, 2009

Courtesy of Scranton Athletic Communications

SCRANTON, Pa.-- Sophomore guard Colleen McLane (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Preparatory) did not score a point in The University of Scranton's 51-45 victory over SUNY Cortland in an NCAA second-round game Saturday evening at the Long Center.

Yet her play on the defensive end of the court is a major reason why the 15th-ranked Lady Royals are advancing to next Friday's sectional semifinal against York College of Pennsylvania at a site and time to be determined Monday. In a game in which both teams dominated defensively, McLane came up with four steals---including three during a critical two-minute stretch late in the second half--and blocked two shots as Scranton won its 18th straight game to improve to 25-4.

Sophomore guard Megan Kopecki (Millington, N.J./Watchung Hills Regional) finished with a game-high 19 points and junior guard Ryan Mooney (Spring City, Pa./Pius X) added 12 points, six rebounds and four assists as Scranton survived despite shooting 26.8 percent from the field (15 of 56), including 21.1 percent from the 3-point arc (4 of 19). The Lady Royals offset their shooting woes by out-rebounding the Red Dragons, 50-35, and by connecting on 17 of 24 free throws (70.8 percent).

Sophomore forward Jennifer Patten (Bainbridge, N.Y.) had 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, junior Jessica Laing (Bloomville, N.Y.) contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds, and first-year guard Michelle Volpini (Newfield, N.Y.) finished with 10 points for SUNY Cortland, which ended its 2008-2009 season with a 24-5 record. Like Scranton, the Red Dragons struggled from the field, shooting just 24.1 percent from the floor (13 of 54), including 12.5 percent (3 of 24) from the 3-point arc.

With Scranton holding on precariously to a 3-point lead with 5:36 remaining, McLane swung the momentum in the Lady Royals' favor by coming up three consecutive steals, one of which led to a lay-up by first-year forward Sarah Gage (Ledgewood, N.J./Roxbury) and Mooney followed with two free throws after another McLane steal to give the Lady Royals a 44-37 lead with 3:44 left. With 2:20 remaining, McLane blocked a 3-point attempt by Patten after the Red Dragons closed to within five, and senior forward Kelly Tratthen (Olyphant, Pa./Lakeland) followed with a lay-up after a timeout to extend the lead to seven, 46-39, with 1:51 left.

The Red Dragons did not go away easily. They cut the margin to four behind one of two free throws by Patten and a length of the court lay-up by Volpini with 48 seconds remaining, 46-42. After Kopecki hit two free throws with 41 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, Patten hit a 3-pointer at the top of the key to make it a three-point game, 48-45, with 29 seconds left.

Mooney hit two clutch free throws with 25 seconds remaining before a missed 3-pointer by Laing with 17 seconds left took the wind out of the Red Dragons' sail. Lady Royal sophomore forward Courtney Roselle (Cedar Grove, N.J./Mount St. Dominic Academy) then hit one of two free throw attempts four seconds later to set the final score.

Scranton came out of the gates quickly, as Mooney and Kopecki buried back-to-back 3-pointers to spark an 8-1 rally in the opening three minutes of play. Scranton led by seven on three other occasions in the first half before the Red Dragons ended the half on an 11-2 run to take a 25-23 lead by intermission.

Volpini connected on all three of her field goal attempts and finished with eight first-half points in 14 minutes, while Kopecki led the Lady Royals with six points. The two teams shot a combined 16 of 54 (29.6 percent) in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Laing opened up the second half with a lay-up as the Red Dragons took their largest lead, 27-23, before Kopecki hit two free throws and Mooney followed with a 3-pointer to give Scranton a 28-27 advantage. Patten then converted a traditional 3-point play to give SUNY Cortland its last lead of the evening, 30-28, with 17:43 left. After senior guard Kristin Ciccone (Long Beach, N.Y.) hit a lay-up with 14:29 remaining, SUNY Cortland would go nearly 14 minutes without a field goal until Volpini went coast-to-coast for a lay-up with 48 seconds remaining.

Scranton has now reached the Sweet 16 17 times in school history.