La Roche scored the game-winning basket with one minute remaining and held on to beat the Pitt-Bradford women's basketball team, 57-56, Saturday afternoon at the KOA Arena.
Billed the AMCC Game of the Week, the matchup of the league's top two teams lived up to the hype and then some. The game was tied at 44 after three quarters and the lead exchanged hands 10 times over the final 10 minutes.
Trailing 52-49, La Roche scored four straight points to go ahead by one with 3:07 remaining. Following a Pitt-Bradford timeout, Darien Lantz found Brittany Watts free in the lane, and she scored to push the Panthers in front 54-53.
The Redhawks scored on the ensuing possession, but Pitt-Bradford retook the lead on Watts' second straight basket with 2:15 remaining. The teams traded empty possessions, and off an offensive rebound, the Redhawks' Mackenzie O'Donnell knocked down a 15-foot jumper to make it 57-56.
Ali Rinfrette was whistled for traveling on the subsequent play, yet the Panthers forced a turnover of their own with 20 seconds left.
Watts had the ball poked away underneath with three seconds remaining, and the Panthers called a timeout to set-up one final play. Rinfrette got free for a shot from the right wing, but it grazed off the front-end of the basket, and the Redhawks escaped with their perfect conference record intact.
Pitt-Bradford trailed much of the first half before closing the period on a 10-4 run, capped by Anna Colebert's jumper in the paint with 56 seconds left, to lead 29-28 at halftime.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well from the field, nor forced the volume of turnovers they generally do. Pitt-Bradford hit at a 36 percent clip, the Redhawks shot 34 percent, and they combined for just seven made threes. The Panthers outrebounded the Redhawks 47-39 and held a 32-28 scoring edge in the paint.
Watts led Pitt-Bradford with 12 points on 6-10 shooting and pulled down 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double. Kaserra Owens finished with 11 points, five rebounds, and four steals while holding the Redhawks' TiChina Mitchell relatively in check all game. Mitchell entered the contest averaging more than 27 points per game and was held six points below her season-average.
Colebert totaled 10 points, and Lantz added nine points and three assists. Rinfrette, the team's leading scorer, battled foul trouble and was limited to a season-low six points.
Pitt-Bradford drops to 9-8 on the season and 7-4 in the AMCC. The Panthers travel to Alfred State Tuesday for a late-season non-conference matchup.