December 18, 2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Waterville beats Erskine late

Allen basket with 2.5 seconds left wins it

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SOUTH CHINA — Waterville needed a basket with 10 seconds left, and coach Rob Rodrigue didn’t try anything fancy. He just got the ball to his best player, and let her make something happen.

Senior point guard Colleen O’Donnell drove the length of the floor with the option to pass or shoot. O’Donnell found Hannah Allen open underneath the basket. Allen scored with 2.5 seconds left, and Waterville edged Erskine, 38-37, in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B girls basketball action Wednesday night.

“I was making sure she was able to drive down the line,” Allen said. “I got open to space, so I just put it up when she gave it to me.”

Erskine (1-3) led 29-27 at the end of the third quarter. O’Donnell tied the score by hitting two free throws with 6:32 to play. The largest lead the rest of the game for either team would be one point.

Waterville trailed 35-34, but tied the score on a free throw by freshman Jordan Jabar (eight points) with 1:54 left, and went up 36-35 on a foul shot by O’Donnell with 56 seconds to go. But with 10 seconds left, Erskine sophomore Mallory Chamberlain stole the ball and drew a foul. Chamberlain, who scored a game-high 17 points, made both free throws to give the Eagles a 37-36 lead.

O’Donnell had 12 points, nine rebounds and nine steals, and one of her strengths is driving to the basket, so she was the natural choice to get the ball after Waterville called timeout. She took the inbounds pass from Emma Cristan and drove down the right side. After splitting a double-team near halfcourt, O’Donnell dribbled to the right baseline before sending a pass to Allen for the game-winner.

“I thought maybe I had to do a layup, but then they were all on me,” O’Donnell said. “I thought maybe draw a foul, but they weren’t fouling. Then I saw Hannah open, so I just dished it to her.”

“That shot will be remembered as the one that lost it for us,” Erskine coach Scott Corey said, “but there were five possessions in the last two minutes where we had a chance to put a lead on them and didn’t.”

Waterville (2-3) held a 22-17 lead at halftime, as Erskine was 3 of 18 from the floor before the break. The Eagles began the third quarter with a 12-0 run, and led 29-22 midway through the quarter.

The Purple Panthers were flailing at that point, but shut Erskine out for the next 7:57 to get back in the game.

“Our defensive effort wasn’t there coming out of the half,” Rodrigue said. “Sometimes we get comfortable. It’s part of being young. I called timeout, got after them a little bit, and they responded.”

It was a brutal loss for the Eagles, but Erskine is also in a different position this season. The Eagles spent four seasons in Class A, where they were often overmatched against larger schools. They’ve now lost back-to-back games, but by a total of five points.

“They’re going home tonight with a reason to be disappointed,” Corey said. “Last year, at halftime of games, they were going, ‘Holy crap, what do we have to do? These guys are good!’ This has been great for them. I didn’t see any of them hanging their heads. There’s no question this is way better for us than any of the last four years have been.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243mdifilippo@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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