BRADFORD, Pa. – The Panthers had all but secured the comfortable home victory over La Roche, but a free throw with five minutes left in regulation erupted the KOA Arena the loudest it had been all afternoon.
Ali Rinfrette scored her 1,611th career point as she made the front end of a pair from the charity stripe to become the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford women's basketball program's all-time scoring leader.
The Bradford native's school-record breaking free throw came as part of a game-high 23-point performance to lead Pitt-Bradford to an 88-60 win over seven-time defending Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference champion and conference preseason favorite La Roche Saturday at the KOA Arena.
"It's surreal," Rinfrette said on being atop the program's scoring list. "It's a great feeling, especially to do it at home, in my hometown, with my friends and family here. But I'm more excited for our team, beating a team that always comes to play and has beat us for years. We're all focused on our goal to win a championship."
The Panthers' win over La Roche snapped an impressive conference game win streak of 28 for the Redhawks, and it's the first time the Pitt-Bradford women's basketball team has beaten La Roche since Feb. 14, 2015, a 64-52 victory.
"Today we really brought the energy," said Head Coach Sharay Hall, who picked up her first collegiate conference win at the Panthers' helm. "We were excited for this rivalry game and the team played the hardest I've seen them play all year. This is Pitt-Bradford basketball and we will continue to work at it every day. I am also proud of Ali for her accomplishment she has worked so hard for. The rest of the girls dedicated this win to her, and I am so proud."
Jennifer Isenberg posted career bests in points and rebounds, scoring 20 points and pulling down 12 boards for her second double-double of the season.
In addition to Rinfrette's scoring numbers, the senior grabbed nine rebounds – five of which offensive boards—and dished seven assists.
The two teams held strong in the first quarter, but the Panthers ended the period on a 10-2 run and took a 17-11 lead into the second quarter.
Isenberg scored nine points in the first quarter.
The Panthers stayed hot, keeping the lead with early buckets from Aria Alston-Smith and Rinfrette.
A jumper from Isenberg at the 2:59 mark put the Panthers up 10 points, 27-17.
Pitt-Bradford later went into the locker room with the lead and all the momentum as Anna Colebert took a feed from Rinfrette and knocked down a corner three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to put the Panthers ahead, 36-25, at the break.
La Roche hung around and kept the Panthers' deficit around 10 points for much of the third quarter but a 12-2 run to end the period for Pitt-Bradford –highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers from Shirleah Ragin and Rinfrette – sent the Panthers into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 58-37 lead.
Rinfrette's record point with 5:21 remaining highlighted the fourth quarter, and Pitt-Bradford later went on to earn its largest lead of the game at 34 points, 85-51, on a free throw from Ragin with 2:30 left in regulation.
A pair of La Roche free throws in the closing parts of the game brought the score to the 88-60 final.
Pitt-Bradford's defense held La Roche to 30 percent (12-40) shooting from the floor. The Redhawks shot 49 free-throw attempts and connected on 32 of them, grabbing a majority of their points at the stripe.
The Panthers knocked down eight three-pointers, tying a season high. Ragin connected on all three of her attempts from long range.
Shaelyn Snipes matched Rinfrette's seven assists to tie for the game lead.
With a 41.9 percent performance from the floor as a team, the Panthers are now 2-0 in games in which they shoot 40 percent or better (44.8 percent vs. Bethany, Nov. 17).
Pitt-Bradford will be in action next as the Panthers travel to Chatham Wednesday for a non-conference game.