LIVINGSTON, NJ - A late comeback led by West Essex captain Jenna Salluce helped fuel a 42-37 Knights win over the Livingston Lady Lancers Friday night, leaving Lancer Head Coach Patty Kaes and Livingston fans in attendance in total disbelief.
Salluce, a 5’6” starting guard, scored the game tying shots from the free throw line with 2:40 left, followed by a steal and a breakaway layup to take the lead.
West Essex's Shannon Bertscha hit two free throws with under a minute left to ice the game.
In the opening quarter the Lancers jumped out to an early lead thanks to the inside scoring of Caroline Cole, and several three point daggers from sophomore Nicole LaRusso.
However all that went to waste after a dreadful shooting second quarter from Livingston allowed the Knights to creep back into contention. West Essex would then tie it at 21 going into halftime after an unbelievable three point shot with 0.9 seconds left on the clock.
Livingston jumped out to an early third quarter lead thanks to the outstanding defensive play from junior forward Sam Rothenberger. In the opening minutes of the second half, Rothenberger recorded three steals to jumpstart a Lancer 6-0 run.
The Knights however fought back to cut the lead to one before ultimately going into the fourth quarter down 32-28.
The score remained close due to the conflicting styles of play by both teams. While Livingston focused on driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line, West Essex took mainly outside shots and relied on their superior rebounding to create second chance shots.
Point guard Katie Horiuchi led the Lancer offense in their attack getting to the line five times, while nearly every member of the Knights was able to grab a rebound.
Rebounds were the key late, although West Essex finished with a poor field goal percentage, they were able to get second, and even third chance shots at the basket.
Several times throughout the game, Livingston would jump out to a six, seven point lead but would allow the Knights to remain in it.
The Lancers will look to rebound against the Orange Tornadoes this Thursday at 7 p.m