Pizzuto hits game-winner as Fords take down Washington in OT

HAVERFORD, Pa. - Jacquelyne Pizzuto's driving layup with 11 seconds remaining on the clock proved to be the game-winner as the Haverford College women's basketball team edged visiting Washington College, 56-54, in overtime Thursday night in Centennial Conference action at Gooding Arena.

Scoring her first points of the game, Pizzuto drove the lane and got the roll that put the Fords on top, 55-54. The Shorewomen (10-10, 8-7 CC) looked to answer with a last-second bucket of their own but Dominique Meeks intercepted a pass intended for Latisha Pledger on Washington's sideline out-of-bounds play with five ticks left on the clock. Pizzuto was immediately fouled and the top foul shooter in the conference, shooting at over 90 percent from the free throw line on the year, delivered on the first of two with two seconds remaining to account for the final score.

The Fords (12-7, 9-6) battled back from a three-point deficit on two occasions in the extra session. Nina Voith hit two free throws as she was fouled off a nice look from Meeks on the baseline to draw Haverford within one, 54-53. The defense then dug deep to force three turnovers by the Shorewomen in the closing minutes including a steal by Rachel Baskin with 29 seconds on the clock off Washington's high-low look to Pledger. Baskin's steal led to a Fords' timeout and Pizzuto delivered the eventual game-winner.

The opening 40 minutes of the contest was a tightly-contested battle as the two squads came into the game sporting identical conference records.The Fords broke out to a 6-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game before the Shorewomen rallied for the 8-8 deadlock. Haverford played front-runner for the majority of the remainder of the first half before Kelly Mitchell's three-pointer forged a 24-24 tie at intermission.

Washington managed to creep ahead after the break as the Shorewomen went 3-for-4 from the field in the initial four minutes of the second half. Facing a five-point deficit,with 14 and a half minutes to play in regulation, the Fords used a 5-for-6 showing from the free throw line over the next three minutes to knot the contest at 36-36. There would be five more deadlocks on the scoreboard over the final 11 minutes of regulation including Carley Kendall's free throw at the 53-second mark that helped Washington tie the game at 49-49. Both squads had an opportunity in the closing seconds to claim the win but it would take the extra session for Pizzuto to help decide the outcome.

Pizzuto, a sophomore point guard, also established a new career high in assists and steals on the night with 10 and five, respectively. The double-digit assist performance was just the eighth in program history. Meeks and Elizabeth Lynch shared game-high scoring honors with 13 points apiece while Calla Miller added nine. Baskin chipped in with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Kelly Mitchell was the lone Washington player to hit double figures with 11 points. Pledger and Espinosa each pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the Shorewomen on the glass. Haverford held Espinosa, the Shorewomen's leading scorer, to just five points on a 1-for-8 shooting night. The Fords' defense also forced 24 turnovers that turned into 18 points.

The victory gives Haverford a split in the season series and moves the Fords into sole possession of fourth place in the tight conference standings.

Looking to take momentum from the last-second victory, Haverford heads to McDaniel College on Saturday in the first of two consecutive road contests. The conference match-up against the Green Terror begins at 1 p.m.

 Delco Times Coverage