WILMINGTON – Adrianna Hahn was leading Ursuline with 20 points Monday night at St. Elizabeth, but with the game on the line, Raiders coach John Noonan had the sophomore guard making the inbounds pass. Hahn found Brenna Williams in the paint, and Williams calmly banked in a layup with 1.8 seconds remaining as top-ranked Ursuline edged No. 2 St. Elizabeth, 50-49, at a boisterous St. E Center.
It was the Catholic Conference opener for Ursuline and the latest in the roundball rivalry between the two schools. While the close final score was no surprise, the decision to have someone other than Hahn take the final shot caught some spectators off-guard.
Williams, however, said Hahn was the perfect person to bring the ball in. “She's a smart girl. She knows what pass to make, so I think she's the perfect person to have as an inbounds. If that wasn't there, she would have had something else up her sleeve.”
Raiders coach John Noonan said the fact that his team did not need a three-point shot in that situation helped, as it opened up other options on the play. The original recipient was supposed to be Kailyn Kampert, but she suggested Williams instead. Score one for Kampert, a freshman.
The Raiders led by 10 at halftime, 28-18, but the Vikings, playing without their best outside shooter, guard Gabby Julian, mounted two furious second-half comebacks. St. Elizabeth stormed out of the gate after the intermission, scoring the first 11 points of the third quarter to turn the deficit into a one-point lead.
Despite finding their scoring touch, St. Elizabeth was able to cut just two points off the halftime deficit. No matter. The Vikings opened the final quarter on an 8-0 run, tying the game at 45.
Noonan opted not to call a timeout during either run, saying he wanted to find out more about his players.
“Good coaches will usually call timeouts there and stop those runs, but I've always believed you try to get to the halfway point of the season and find out what kind of team you are, and that's what we're trying to figure out, who are we, what are we, how are we going to handle adversity during a game,” he said. “So we let the kids play through it. They made some plays, they made some mistakes. I think we'll learn from that.”
His counterpart for the Vikings, Tom Ferrier, said he knew his team was still in the game after the mistake-laden first half.
“They hadn't played very good or very inspired basketball at that point, but they were still only down 10 points,” Ferrier said.
With the game tied at 45, Ursuline's Laura Hurff gave her team the lead again with her lone field goal of the game, but a free throw by Sabrina Hackendorn tied the game at 47 with 1:02 to go. Ursuline regained the lead by a point on a free throw by Mary Abram with 45 seconds to go, but Hackendorn continued a strong second-half performance when she rebounded a missed shot by Jordyn Humes, took a step and a dribble away from the basket and drained a six-foot turnaround jumper off the glass. With 15 seconds left, the Vikings' comeback was nearly complete.
St. Elizabeth regained the ball with nine seconds to go when Hahn was called for charging as she drove the key, but on the ensuing possession the Vikings' Jocelyn Rodriguez missed a contested layup with five seconds remaining.
Ferrier said it was his responsibility that Rodriguez went for the layup instead of dribbling away from the basket after catching the long inbounds pass.
“I'll take responsibility on that,” he said. “In the huddle we didn't say when you get possession to bring it out. That's a set play, and we've never ever said get possession and then run the clock out.”
Ursuline inbounded the ball once from the far side of halfcourt, but the ball was knocked out of bounds. That set up the final play, which originated in front of the Ursuline bench, and Hahn and Williams connected for the winner.
Besides Hahn's 20, the Raiders got 14 points from Abram, 11 from Williams, three from Hurff and two from Kampert. Alex Thomas led the Vikings with 16 points, 11 of them in the first half, when she was most of her team's offense. The other scorers for St. Elizabeth included Hackendorn with 13, Rodriguez and Macy Robinson with eight each and Humes with four.
Ursuline hosts Padua Wednesday at 7:15 p.m., while the Vikings are home vs. Sussex Central Friday at 5 p.m. Julian, nursing a sprained ankle, will play in that game.