STEVENSON, Md. - When the Lycoming College women's basketball team entered halftime of its MAC Commonwealth playoff matchup at Stevenson with an 11-point lead, the Warriors probably felt like they were in a dream.
Everything went right for them through the game's opening 20 minutes, as they forced good shot opportunities, hit open looks, and smothered the Mustangs with a stingy defensive showing for an 11-point halftime lead. It was the type of game Lycoming was hoping to play after spending the last month fighting for the fifth and final spot in the Commonwealth tournament. They could do no wrong.
But as will sometimes happen, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare for the Warriors at the onset of the second half, and No. 5 seed Lycoming eventually fell to No. 4 seed Stevenson, 68-54.
"I think part of that was nerves," Lycoming head coach Christen Ditzler said. "Basketball is a game of momentum, and they had all the momentum in the second half.
"When they came out and turned up the defensive intensity and hit some quick baskets there, it kind of took the wind out of our sails,"?Ditzler said.
After starting the second half on a 19-point run while holding Lycoming scoreless for the better part of seven minutes, the Mustangs not only took the wind out of Warriors' sails, they capsized their boat.
"I think when we came out Lycoming stunned us a little bit," Stevenson head coach Jackie Boswell said. "They are a great team and they fought hard just to get into these playoffs, so they weren't going to just give it to us."
"We were shocked walking into the locker room and I told them to just relax and go out and play. I think they took that to heart."
Having quickly dissipated the lead Lycoming worked hard to earn through the first half, Stevenson looked much more comfortable on the floor as the game played on, and saw its field goal percentages jump by 30 percent. By contrast, the Warriors went from 48 to 19 percent shooting, hitting just 5 of 27 second-half shots. Lycoming also saw trouble on the glass through game's last 20 minutes, as they were outrebounded by a 30-10 margin, after dominating on the boards earlier in the contest.
"We got tight and pressed shots, and just couldn't find the basket," Ditzler said.
The Mustangs enjoyed double-digit scoring efforts from four different players, and were led in scoring by junior guard Kayla Kelly, who went 6-for-14 from the field and 4-for-4 at the line, ending the game with 16 points.
As their lead grew, the Stevenson crowd became increasingly rowdy with each ticking second, making it that much more difficult for Lycoming to make a late-game rally. Their student section, which was especially energetic, was having an obvious impact on Lycoming's confidence.
"They had a great crowd for them, and that certainly fueled their fire in the second half," said Ditzler.
Despite the loss, Ditzler was happy with her team's effort, and said that they met all of the goals she had set for them coming into the season.
"Nobody thought we would be here except for us," she said. "Everybody worked hard from the minute they stepped on campus this year. They had passion and intensity, and their mindset was positive."
"All of those things help to ease the pain here a little bit."
Janelle Ziminski 5-10 1-2 14; Ali Derr 4-9 4-4 12; Julia Antonelli 5-9 0-2 10; Olivia Manges 2-11 2-2 7; Nicole Calella 1-5 3-4 5; Chelsea Henderson 2-7 0-0 4; Victoria Siebecker 1-5 0-0 2; Jenna Morgan 0-0 0-0 0; Rachel Miller 0-2 0-1 0. Totals 20-58 10-15 54.
Kayla Kelly 6-14 4-4 16; Kyarra Harmon 6-10 3-4 15; Stephanie Martinez 5-10 0-0 14; Ty Bender 4-8 4-5 12; Kayleigh Guzek 3-6 0-0 7; Caitlin Roy 2-6 0-3 4; Mattie Milchling 0-0 0-0 0; Ruth Casadevall 0-2 0-0 0; Brittey Page 0-2 0-0 0; Abbey DeFeo 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 26-58 11-17 68.
Halftime:?Lycoming, 35-24. 3-point goals--Lycoming 4-16 (Ziminski 3-6; Manges 1-8; Calella 0-1; Siebecker 0-1), Stevenson 5-14 (Martinez 4-9; Guzek 1-3; Page 0-1; Kelly 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Lycoming 30 (Derr 9), Stevenson 46 (Harmon Assists--Lycoming 13 (Manges 4; Miller 4), Stevenson 16 (Bender 5). Total fouls--Lycoming 20, Stevenson 18. Technical fouls---None.