LIVINGSTON, N.J. - It wasn’t the prettiest of victories but Livingston's Nicole LaRusso and her 3-point shot led the Lancers (6-5) over the Cedar Grove Panthers (3-7), 38-27, on Thursday night.
The sophomore 3-point specialist swung the momentum in the Lancers’ favor heading into halftime after making a last-second three to extend Livingston’s lead to five points.
The long deep ball may have appeared as a heave, but LaRusso stated she was confident in her shot.
“I was pretty sure it was going in," LaRusso said after the game.
LaRusso led the team with 10 points to go along with three assists. However, just like the rest of her teammates the young sophomore guard had a mediocre night at the free throw line, finishing 2-for-4.
Head Coach Patty Kaes recognized it was not her teams best performance from the line, going 7-for-19, but credited her players for “making them [free-throws] in the clutch, and that’s what counts.”
The Panthers hit four of their seven free throw attempts, 57 percent, and through most of the first half it seemed as though it would be them who would come up in the clutch. After trailing 9-2 early, Cedar Grove led a late rally to pull within two points and seemed poised to pull of a miraculous upset.
Led by Jill Goldberg and Elena Zecchino, the Panthers remained in contention with the Lancers, despite committing numerous turnovers and fouls. Cedar Grove relied on the deadly shooting accuracy of Goldberg and the interior post moves of Zecchino to fight back from countless deficits. Goldberg and Zecchino finished with 10 and eight points.
What remained a closely competitive game throughout the first three quarters, turned into a secure victory for Livingston in the fourth, due to their improved defense. The Lancers shut out both Goldberg and Zecchino, the Panthers leading scorers, in the final quarter; and held the entire Cedar Grove offense to only four points in the final eight minutes of play.
Senior Caroline Cole led Livingston in their defensive prowess finishing with three steals and one pass deflection. Junior Catherine Callaghan recorded three blocks, five rebounds and two pass deflections and along with fellow forward Sam Rothenberger, the three of them cemented a strong interior defense that simply overwhelmed the Panthers in the second half.
Livingston faces the Millburn Millers (5-5) Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in which will feature a triple header starring all levels of both girls' and boys' basketball.