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Fords earn top seed in Centennial tourney with 67-59 OT victory over Swarthmore

Fords earn top seed in Centennial tourney with 67-59 OT victory over Swarthmore

SWARTHMORE, Pa. - The visiting Haverford College women's basketball team claimed the top seed in the upcoming Centennial Conference tournament by outlasting rival Swarthmore College, 67-59, in overtime at Tarble Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.

The Fords' record-breaking season will continue at Gooding Arena next weekend as Haverford (21-3, 15-3 CC) hosts the conference tournament for the first time in program history.

The Garnet (13-11, 8-10) forced overtime with a three-pointer by Kayla Moritzky in the final minute of regulation but the Fords, playing for the right to host the conference tournament, did not back down from the challenge.

Junior point guard Jacquelyne Pizzuto came alive with six of Haverford's 10 points in the extra session. Pizzuto's first two buckets of the game gave the Fords a 61-57 advantage with 4:14 remaining on the overtime clock.

A long jumper from Swarthmore senior Katie Lytle cut Haverford's lead to two at the 3:22 mark but Pizzuto answered right back with a jumper from the foul line.

Lytle's jumper accounted for the Garnet's lone points in overtime as the the Fords' defense, ranked ninth nationally in field-goal percentage defense, pestered Swarthmore into an 0-for-5 showing from the field over the final two-plus minutes of play. Two free throws from Rachel Baskin and a layup from Elizabeth Lynch capped the scoring on the day as the Fords registered the season sweep over the Garnet.

The entertaining contest gave fans on both sides plenty to cheer about on the final day of the regular season.

Playing on her home floor for the last time, Lytle, the reigning conference player of the year, went 5-for-7 from the floor in the first 10 minutes of the contest. Feeding off the emotion of Senior Day, Swarthmore moved ahead by eight (19-11) on Lytle's jumper with 10:39 left on the first-half clock.

Haverford began to chip away as Shannon Smith scored back-to-back baskets to bring the Fords within four, 21-17, at 7:27. Smith's buckets were the start of a 15-5 run that put Haverford ahead by two, 28-26, with 2:44 left until intermission.

Cara Wyant provided a spark off the bench as the senior scored the Fords' last 11 points of the half.

A three-pointer in the final minute from Stephanie Lechich gave the hosts a one-point advantage (31-30) at the break but it would be short-lived as Haverford tallied 14 of the first 16 points in the second half. Nina Voith keyed the surge with nine points to help the Fords open an 11-point lead with 14 minutes to go in regulation.

The Garnet fought back to tie the game at 49-49 with six minutes left on the clock. Each team then went on to lead by as many as three over the remainder of regulation before Moritzky's shot from behind the arc tied the contest at 57-57 with 25 seconds to play

Wyant paced the Fords with a career-high 20 points including 15 in the first half. Voith scored 15 second-half points to finish with 17 on the day while Lynch also reached double figures with 11 points.

Haverford also won the battle on the boards, 51-37. The impressive effort saw the Fords limit Swarthmore to just six offensive rebounds and two second-chance points on the afternoon. Voith and Lynch shared team-high rebounding honors with 10 apiece.

Senior Katie Lytle led Swarthmore with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The victory gives Haverford another point in this year's contest for the Hood Trophy. The Fords currently lead the friendly rivalry between the two institutions by a score of 7.5-0.5.

Haverford's season will continue next Friday night in the semifinals against the winner of the opening-round contest between Muhlenberg College and Gettysburg College which will take place in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday. The other semifinal game on Friday will feature second-seeded McDaniel College and third-seeded Johns Hopkins University. Times for all of the conference tournament games will be announced on Monday.