Courtesy of athletics.SJFC.edu
TROY, N.Y. – Sophomore Ella Eckert hit the go-ahead free throw with 3.6 seconds and finished with a career-high 25 points as the St. John Fisher College women’s basketball team moved into sole possession of first place in the Empire 8 standings on Saturday after beating The Sage Colleges, 59-58, inside Kahl Gymnasium. With the win, Fisher, which has come out on top in each of its last four games, improved to 11-4 and 4-0 in the conference while the Gators fell to 8-8, 4-1, respectively.
Eckert was 8-for-18 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the free throw line as the forward hauled in seven rebounds and accounted two blocked shots in the win. Julia Mertsock finished with 10 points and eight boards while Miranda Lynch (Webster Thomas) added nine points in 30 minutes. Sophomore Maisy Booth chipped in with six points off the bench.
After mustering just 18 points over the first 20 minutes of play and trailing by seven at the break, the Cardinals found their groove as the third period got underway with Lynch burying a 3-pointer on a feed from Harper Mead that sparked a 13-1 run and turned a deficit into a five-point lead.
Ahead by two possessions, Fisher saw its lead slip away after Sage countered with an 8-0 burst of its own to make it 34-31 with 2:34 still showing in the quarter. The advantage would change hands four more times before a pair of free throws from Sage closed out the frame with the home team on top, 38-37.
Both teams battled for an advantage as the final stanza got underway. With the score knotted at 45-45, Eckert converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to ignite a 7-2 run that featured five free throws and made it 52-47 in Fisher’s favor.
With time ticking away, the Gators continued to hang around and would eventually tie the game after draining a deep 3-pointer on the wing to make it 58-58. After holding on the defensive end of the floor, Fisher took over with 13.5 seconds left in the game and worked its offense before the ball found its way to Eckert who drew a foul and converted 1-of-2 free throws to lift the visitors to the one-point win.
Overall, Fisher was 21-for-59 (.356) from the floor, but nailed 15-of-22 attempts from the charity stripe. Head coach Melissa Kuberka‘s team controlled the glass as well and out-rebounded Sage, 48-31. Defensively, Fisher had five steals and blocked four shots while Sage turned the ball over 12 times.
The Cardinals will continue their run through the Empire 8 when they welcome Elmira College to Manning and Napier Varsity Gymnasium and Bobby Wanzer Court at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.