WESTFIELD, NJ — Junior guard Caroline Dwyer sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and then came down with a big defensive rebound to help seal Westfield's 50-47 girls basketball victory over Roselle Catholic Tuesday afternoon.
The tightly contested triumph gave Westfield (8-4) a season sweep of the team that knocked the Lady Blue Devils out of the Union County Tournament last year in the semifinal round. Westfield had beaten Roselle Catholic, 49-38, in December.
Tuesday's showdown was never more than a two-possession game for the final 12 minutes, when Westfield countered each Roselle Catholic (5-5) threat to pull away with a basket to keep things close, until the Blue Devils finished the game with a 9-2 run.
Dwyer, who had missed a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left that would have given Westfield a one-point lead, answered the call when given a second opportunity to be the heroine. After Roselle Catholic missed the front end of a one-and-one with 39 seconds left, Chloe Kreusser of Westfield started to drive the lane before passing to Dwyer in the right corner. Dwyer let fly with a 3-point attempt from the same spot where she'd missed moments earlier, only this one swished through, giving Westfield a 48-47 lead.
"I realized in that situation that someone had to step up, and that this time it had to be me," Dwyer said. "I knew Chloe would drive to her right, so I went to the corner so I would be open if she passed it."
With 10 seconds left, Roselle Catholic missed a 3-point attempt from the top of the circle. The rebound came out to Dwyer, who secured the ball as she was knocked to the floor. Then, with three seconds left, junior guard Ali LiSanti went to the line and hit both ends of a one-and-one to extend the Blue Devils' lead to three, 50-47. Roselle Catholic then missed a game-tying 3-point attempt by a matter of inches at the buzzer.
"We pride ourselves on our defense and on getting stops," said Westfield head coach Liz McKeon, a 1,000-point career scorer at Westfield before she graduated in 1999. "The first time we played Roselle Catholic this season, our defense was really impressive and we were able to shut them down until the third quarter. They came in with a chip on their shoulder today after that game, and we knew this one would be tough."
In fact, the visiting Lions threatened to run away with the game early in the second quarter when they built a 20-14 lead. But Westfield ran off nine straight points to take a 23-20 lead shortly before halftime. Westfield center Grace Klag scored five of her team-high 13 points during that spurt, with two of her baskets coming off assists from senior point guard Lily Maz. Although Maz did not score a point, she gave Westfield an exceptional floor game with a team-high six assists overall.
"We stress the importance of staying poised and accountability," McKeon said. "We have a team full of girls who make the smart pass and trust each other. We don't have to force it inside, and we don't have to force it to the perimeter for a 3-pointer because they all move so well without the ball."
Roselle Catholic built another six-point lead late in the third quarter, going ahead, 36-30, before the Blue Devils scored the last four points of the quarter on a layup by Sam Stravach (11 points, three blocks) and a baseline jumper by Kreusser. After Roselle Catholic opened the fourth quarter with a basket for a 38-34 lead, Dwyer drained the second of her three 3-pointers in the game to bring Westfield back within one.
"The whole game, coach just told us to keep shooting and keep hanging in there," Dwyer said. "We just focused on moving the ball around well."
Kreusser led Westfield in rebounding with seven. Dwyer also had five rebounds. Of the 18 total field goals the Blue Devils made, 17 of them came off of assists--the only one that didn't was a rebound basket by Klag, who held her own admirably against a big and physical Roselle Catholic front line.
Taniya Hanner scored 14 points for Roselle Catholic to finish the game with exactly 1,000 for her career.
Roselle Catholic (5-5) 14 9 11 16 -- 47
Westfield (8-4) 13 10 13 11 -- 50
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