CRANFORD - It came down to the final minute, but the Cougars fell just short.
Lauren Williamson and Olivia Speer each scored 15 points as Cranford dropped a 53-48 down to the wire matchup with Roselle Catholic, on Tuesday.
After going into halftime trailing 31-19, the Cougars started the third quarter with a 12-2 run, including seven points by Williamson, to cut the deficit to two. After some back and forth, Speer hit her third 3-pointer to give Cranford its first lead since the first quarter before Nina Worthey knocked down a free throw with three seconds left to tie it up 37-37 heading to the fourth.
The Cougars struggled earlier on with the height advance of Roselle Catholic, mainly Worthey and Taniya Hanner, but Hanner found herself on the bench due to foul trouble in the third quarter. The final quarter saw the return of Hanner, which Cranford head coach Jackie Dyer attempted to counter with taller players of her own such as Kirsten Williams and Natalie Kruk, leaving Speer, who had 15 points through three quarters, on the bench.
Though Hannen fouled out early in the fourth, Dwyer stuck with a taller lineup and Speer didn't return until the final two minutes when center K.C. Pringle fouled out. Speer had a chance to tie things up at the line, but put a little too much on the shot. Kruk came down with the offensive rebound, but got whistled for traveling.
The fourth quarter saw seven lead changes, but it the end, foul trouble was the decider. Roselle Catholic, who entered the fourth already in the bonus, knocked down just three of its first 11 free throws of the quarter, but went 4-for-4 in the final minute to extend the lead to five and close things out.
Cranford will next take on Summit at home on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.