BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston girls basketball team got off to a fast start and then held on for 44-37 victory over Union on Saturday in Berkeley Heights. Skylar Dowling scored 11 of her game high 19 points in the opening quarter as the Lady Highlanders opened up a 19-10 lead. Dowling got plenty of help from Fiona Kerr (8 pts,10 reb), Paige Phillips (8 pts), and Stacey Berliner (6 pts) as Gov. Livingston built a 14 point second half lead before Union clawed their way back into the game. Union's Breanna McNair and Allison Seator led the charge as the Lady Farmers closed to within 40-36 with two minutes left in the game. However, the Lady Highlanders got driving scores from Shannon Polimeni and Dowling down the stretch to close out the win. The cross conference victory over Union was Gov. Livingston's second in a row and raises their season record to 7-10.
The Lady Highlanders, who have had trouble getting their offense going early in games this season, got off to a blistering start as Dowling was locked in from long range. Dowling who hit five three-pointers in the game dropped three from behind the arch in the opening minutes of play. Kerr and Berliner mixed in strong drives to the basket and the Lady Highlanders were off and running as they jumped out to a quick lead.
Both teams turned up the defensive heat as the second quarter began before McNair notched the quarter's first points with a nice drive to the hoop two minutes in. Kerr, who has been a force on the offensive glass, converted a put back and another Dowling three pushed Gov. Livingston’s lead to a comfortable 12 halfway thought the quarter. McNair then scored the games next six points as Union cut their deficit in half. Paige Phillips then drained the first of her two threes pushing the Gov. Livingston lead back up to 9 as the first half ended.
Gov. Livingston came out strong scoring five fast points to open the second half. Senior Ally McGlynn turned a steal into a fast break feed to Berliner for a hoop and Dowling buried a deep three as the Lady Highlanders lead ballooned to 14. A Union timeout led to the Lady Farmers reeling off 8 straight points before Phillips hit a three from the corner to stop the run. However, the game's momentum had clearly shifted to Union.
Suddenly, Gov. Livingston found themselves in a dog fight as Union trailed 36-32 with 3:44 left in the game. Kerr then gave the Lady Highlanders some breathing room with two foul shots and a hoop, but McNair and Krizia Aponte kept pace with hoops of their own. Gov. Livingston coach Chris Eckert chose to run clock, clinging to a four point lead with just over two minutes left in the game, looking only for a layup on a drive to the basket. Polimeni made her coaches strategy pay off as she found a clear path to the hoop and scored. The Lady Highlanders defense would yield only a single free throw the rest of the way and Dowling ended the Lady Farmers chances with a layup.
Gov. Livingston will face Columbia HS on Monday afternoon at home as they await their seeding in both the state and county tournament. The Lady Highlanders currently hold the 12th seed in the North Jersey, Group 3 state bracket and will find out their slot in the upcoming Union County tournament early next week. Both games to open the state and county tournaments will most likely be on the road.